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Kelly to run for 28A seat

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Red Wing School Board Chairman Tim Kelly announced Friday he will seek the Republican endorsement in the House District 28A race.

"This is an opportunity to step up into a higher arena where you can make a more positive difference," he said in a phone interview with the R-E.

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Kelly said his candidacy began taking shape after talking with a Republican lawmaker following a House education committee meeting in Red Wing. That talk -- fueled by Kelly's frustration with the state's school funding formula -- led to suggestions he consider running for the Legislature.

In the following weeks, House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, recruited him to pursue a campaign. The concept appealed to Kelly, who said he will make school finance reform a central issue to his campaign.

"Being on the School Board the last five years has been a very educational process," the 43-year-old said. "I've seen how mandates can be a hindrance. I think I could lend some insight with my real, hands-on experience."

Kelly's announcement is the first GOP bid in the 28A race. The Republican endorsement winner will likely face incumbent Rep. Sandy Wollschlager.

The first-term Democrat from Cannon Falls has not formally announced a re-election campaign, but said Friday she does plan to run again.

Kelly, a financial adviser and married father of four, said he will remain on the School Board. Whether he continues to lead the board -- or hand off his chairman's role -- remains to be seen.

Goodhue County Republican Chairman Howard Stenerson said Kelly's longtime involvement with the local business community and schools could help his candidacy.

"I think that he'll be a fairly well-rounded candidate," Stenerson said.

Kelly pointed to his role in recent negotiations between the Red Wing teachers union and the district as a training ground for St. Paul politics. Bargaining ended last month when an agreement was reached, bringing the nine-month process to a close.

"In the Legislature, it takes compromise to get things done," said Kelly, a member of the district's negotiating team.

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