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Claflin announces bid against Franke for 54A House seat

Anne Claflin

With candidates barely announced for the Senate District 54 special election in February, the November 2018 House District 54A race is beginning to take shape with South St. Paul DFLer Anne Claflin announced her candidacy.

Claflin announced her run on Dec. 11. Rep. Keith Franke, R-St. Paul Park, holds the seat.

"I have been thinking about it for a long time," she said. "I got so frustrated after the last election, that I have to channel this into something."

At first, she put her energy into negotiating for her local union, but finally decided to try to direct her efforts toward politics.

Claflin has a long history in environmental policy, receiving degrees from Grinnell College and the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs in biology and environmental policy. For the last 11 years, she's been a research scientist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

"I'm proud of the work Minnesota has done so far to adjust climate change, (and increase) renewables ... but we could be doing so much more," Claflin said. " ... We have goals to reduce emission that we are just not achieving."

At a time when a growing number of politicians have been accused of sexual misconduct, Claflin said she was "frustrated" when allegations against Sen. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, were made public. If elected, she said she wants to see a change in the culture at the Capitol surrounding women and harassment.

"The fact that I'm a woman did not really factor into my decision, but yes, absolutely, we need more women," she said.

She hopes to be a champion of women not only in politics, but in STEM fields as well.

Not only does science need more women, Claflin said, but the Capitol needs more scientists, a role she's hoping to fill. "Scientists ... look at things a different way," she said, and have the ability to translate some of the technical policy into understandable language.

Claflin lives in South St. Paul with her husband, Warren, and their 2-year-old son.

Franke, who won election in 2016, said he will likely seek re-election next fall.

"I love this job, love what I'm doing, love the people, love the area," he said. "During the fray of the politics at the Capitol, I try not to lose my focus on representing the people of this area."

District 54A includes western Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park and the southern end of South St. Paul.