A three-term DFL legislator from Edina announced this week that she won’t seek a new term in 2024, nearly six months before the candidate endorsement process begins at the local level.
In a four-tweet thread published on social media early Wednesday morning, Heather Edelson told her constituents and legislative colleagues that “it has been a great honor and privilege to represent my community at the Minnesota Capitol for the past five years.” She didn’t cite a reason for her decision to not seek re-election nor the timing of her announcement.
Requests for comment from Edelson were not returned. The Democrat did say on social media she intends to serve out her term as the state representative for District 50A, which expires on Jan. 6, 2025. That means she’ll be present for the 2024 legislative session, a non-budget year, which begins in February.
“ … I ran for office as someone who believes in lifting up different people from our communities to have the opportunity to lead,” said Edelson, who stopped short of revealing whether she will have any hand in helping to pick a DFL candidate from District 50A to succeed her. Among those Democrats who may have an interest are Edina City Council member Carolyn Jackson, who lost to Edelson in a campaign for the DFL endorsement in 2018.
Once a newcomer in a purple district, now a safe insurance vote for DFL majority
During Edelson’s time in the House of Representatives, she provided an insurance vote for her Democrat colleagues who have enjoyed a relatively comfortable majority during Edelson’s tenure, especially during the DFL trifecta session of 2023. But voting in lockstep with her Democrat colleagues wasn’t once a sure recipe for re-election in Edina.
In 2016, Edelson was a relative newcomer to legislative politics. Despite that, she challenged moderate incumbent Ron Ehardt for the DFL nomination, but lost during the party endorsement process. In 2018 Edelson beat out two others for the DFL endorsement, including Jackson. She then went on to unseat moderate Republican incumbent Dario Anselmo in a suburban House district that had long been regarded as “purple.”
Anselmo, whose Edina residence was placed outside Edelson’s district in 2022 during a redistricting process, said he appreciates the service his one-time political opponent provided to her constituents. Although they didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of issues, Edelson’s background as a mental health professional aligned with some of the initiatives Anselmo said he worked on in the legislature.
“[Edelson] was nice enough to help bring to the finish line some of the tobacco cessation legislation and mental health care legislation I carried when I was at the Capitol,” Anselmo said. “There were some bigger issues we disagreed on, but people can agree to disagree on issues and still find common ground. I appreciate that about her.”
Edelson’s announcement that she will not seek a fourth legislative term comes at a time when a neighboring Democrat, Hennepin County Commissioner Chris La Tondresse, is set to officially resign from his District 6 seat on Sept. 21. Edelson lives in the district La Tondresse represents. There’s been speculation over who might seek to fill that vacancy in a special election that will take place in March.
Another topic not yet answered with specificity is Edelson’s stance on a potential special session that has been a topic of debate within her caucus. She was one of a number of DFLers who did not sign onto a letter published last week opposing a special session that Republicans and numerous law enforcement leaders say is needed to fix a new law that negatively impacts how school resource officers do their jobs.
In an Aug. 30 email exchange with one of her constituents on the issue, Edelson said, “This was the governors (sic) language and proposal that they need to fix. His staff are working on a solution. SRO’s will remain in Edina Public Schools.” Edelson’s District 50A colleague in the Senate, Alice Mann, did sign onto that letter with 43 other DFLers opposing a special session.
On other highly visible issues, Edelson has been supportive of a number of gun control advocacy initiatives, has been perennially endorsed by Education Minnesota, stumped for ranked choice voting and THC edibles legislation, and voted with her DFL colleagues on every major bill that passed the legislature this past spring.
She hasn’t had to moderate her stances on politically controversial legislation as she ran unopposed in 2020, and in 2022 she easily won another term when her Republican opponent dropped out of the race but was technically still on the ballot.
But in her announcement this week, Edelson chose to tout her less partisan accomplishments in the legislature.
“From working on disability rights — to the intersection of public safety and mental health – to the importance of ensuring every child graduates knowing how to read — I have been dedicated to policies that improve the lives of Minnesotans,” she said.
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.