DFLer Edelson wins special election in Hennepin County over conservative Simonetti

Edelson captured just more than 54 percent of 11,000 votes cast in the May 14 runoff against Simonetti.

Marisa Simonetti, left, and DFL legislator Heather Edelson faced off Tuesday in a special election for the District 6 seat on the Hennepin County Board.

A springtime special election in the west metro tilted the way of the experienced politician as three-term DFL legislator Heather Edelson defeated political newcomer Marisa Simonetti for a seven-month term on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.

Edelson, who will fill the District 6 vacancy on the board that controls the second largest budget in the state ($2.7 billion), is expected to run for a new, four-year term this fall. The special election took place seven months after DFLer Chris LaTondresse resigned from the board to run a non-profit housing developer.

Edelson, of Edina, captured just more than 54 percent of 11,000 votes cast in the May 14 runoff against Simonetti, a political conservative, also of Edina. That nine-point margin shows a much tighter electorate in the District 6 boundaries that span from Edina to Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Orono, Wayzata and a handful of Lake Minnetonka communities. In 2022, DFL Gov. Tim Walz won the same district by nearly 30 percent. Democrat Attorney General Keith Ellison carried the district by nearly 20 points.

“In eight short weeks we accomplished what would take most others many months,” Simonetti said in a statement following news of the election results. “While these weren’t the results we hoped for, it is clearer to me now than it was to me two months ago that our community is ready for change. We will continue to build on this groundwork to return safety, security, and fiscal responsibility to Minnesota. Our work will continue.”

Edelson, who announced last September that she wouldn’t be seeking a fourth term representing Edina in the Minnesota House of Representatives, told Alpha News a month later that she had not initially planned running for the vacant county board seat because she didn’t want a campaign to distract from her duties during the 2024 legislative session. She changed her mind when the special election date was pushed back from April to May, she said.

Over the course of seven months, Edelson raised more than $50,000 in hopes of advancing in a primary among a field of seven candidates. One of those included Jennifer Westmoreland, a Hopkins School Board member and partner to Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty. Westmoreland was the first to announce her intentions to run for the District 6 seat, even as she received criticism from some fellow Democrats who were intra-party political rivals of Moriarty.

While Edelson, Westmoreland and DFL activist Patrick Gage each spent well into the five figures in their campaigns, Simonetti told Alpha News last month she spent less than $700 before finishing second in the primary, good enough to advance to the special election.

“I may not have had name recognition like some of the other candidates, or a record of spending Minnesotans’ hard-earned cash,” Simonetti said. “But it was clear even with the 32 percent of the vote I earned in the primary, that the people of my district shared my concern that we were not spending your money wisely and criminals were further emboldened knowing they likely face no consequences.”


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.