Jewish State Rep. Heather Edelson Wins Seat On Hennepin County Board

When Heather Edelson first got elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2018, it was never her intention to be in that elected body forever – which is why she announced last fall that she wasn’t running for re-election when her seat is up in 2024, and would go back to her therapy practice.

But when Chris LaTondresse resigned his seat on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners a couple of weeks later, Edelson decided to try and be a part of another elected body. Edelson, a Democrat representing Edina, won a May 14 special election for the District 6 seat, defeating Marisa Simonetti 54%-45%. As of Thursday morning, she was uncertain when she would be resigning her seat and starting her knew role, but she knows a special election won’t be required to fill her current seat since the House won’t be in session.

As with many special elections, you’re running to serve out the remaining time on a term; in Edelson’s case, she’ll be running again November for a full term of the seat – and she believes she’ll be running against Simonetti again.

“I never anticipated being at the Capitol, like as a 20-year representative,” Edelson said. “I believe in having different voices in the area and just being able to represent a community. It’s a great and very cool experience. And also, it’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had in my entire life. It’s very emotionally draining. It’s really hard, grueling hours that nobody knows about. Even though I’m really a very moderate Democrat, you’re beat up a lot on both sides on certain things.”

As opposed to being a lawmaker for the last six years – and working to wrap up a legislative session that has to end by May 20 – her role on the county board will be more about the implementation of laws. The county district is also significantly larger than her legislative district: it covers: part of Chanhassen, Deephaven, north Eden Prairie, Edina, Excelsior, Greenwood, Hopkins, Long Lake, Minnetonka, Minnetonka Beach, northern Mound, Orono, Shorewood, Spring Park, Tonka Bay, Wayzata, and Woodland. And the timing of the special election made it very difficult to campaign.

“I was in session for most of this, and my hours are terrible, so it was really challenging,” she said. “But I think from representing Edina, there’s a lot of similarities between what people want in Edina to what they want in Excelsior, to what they want in Long Lake and Mound and Orono. I think there’s a lot of really good shared values.”

Edelson said that one of the nice things about the role is that it’s nominally non-partisan.

“Of course, it feels really partisan in an election, but when the dust settles, this is not a very partisan job,” she said. “I’m not a very partisan person. The frustration has been just how much my opponent in this race, who was more of a Trump Republican really tried to paint me as pretty partisan. Most people that know me at the Capitol know that’s not true.”

Edelson said that in leaving one elected role for another, is about challenging herself.

“We love to change and grow throughout our life, and I’m really looking forward to the next challenge and I’m really excited,” she said. “I used a lot of county services growing up as a kid that I’ll be helping to make sure are delivered well. It feels like a full-circle moment. 

“I was able to do a lot of really cool things at the Capitol that I felt were very bipartisan, with a lot of consensus. And now I’m able to go to the county and see what we can do there.”