Rep. Hunter Cantrell, DFL-Savage, won’t seek re-election to the House District 56-A seat in 2020, he announced this week. He’ll instead campaign for fellow Democrat Jessica Hanson.
Cantrell and Hanson announced their plans at the party’s Senate District 56 meeting Monday.
Cantrell, a freshman lawmaker and one of the youngest representatives in the state, flipped the district, which represents Savage and parts of Burnsville, in 2018 with a narrow win over incumbent Republican Drew Christensen.
Republican Pam Myhra, who served in the House from 2010-2014 before campaigning for other state positions, announced this summer she’ll be running in 2020 to win the seat back.
Cantrell said he’ll return to the University of Minnesota to complete his bachelor’s degree after previously taking a leave of absence to undergo cancer treatment.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve my community in the Minnesota House. I’m deeply grateful for the experience I’ve had, and for the people who trusted me to bring their priorities to the Capitol,” he said in a written statement Tuesday.
“I look forward to continuing to work on lowering the cost of prescription drugs, providing opportunities for every child to receive a world-class education, and making Minnesota a place where everyone can thrive.”
His political efforts also included a push to ban gay conversion therapy practices on children and vulnerable adults, a proposal that passed the House but failed the Republican-controlled Senate.
“We are going to build upon the framework that he worked so hard to build last year and we are going to keep it going,” Hanson said at the meeting.
Hanson earned a degree in social work from St. Catherine University last year and plans to graduate with a master’s in advocacy and political leadership this spring.
She said her priorities include working towards accessible health care, greater support for teachers and a “responsible government that taxes everyone at a fair rate.”
Hanson grew up in a trailer park in Lakeville. She gave birth to her first child at 17 years old and lost her health insurance a few months later.
“I watched my parents fight so hard growing up just to pay for groceries and keep food on the table,” she said. “It didn’t make sense to me how someone could work so hard and still not be able to go to the doctor.”
Myhra, a certified public accountant, said it’s typical for the political party opposing the president to come out strong in the midterm elections after the president’s election, and she’s hopeful the district will swing back towards Republicans.
In 2010, Myhra represented Burnsville residents and one precinct of Savage residents in District 40A. In 2012, the lines were redrawn and the new district, 56A, shifted west to represent all of Savage and some of Burnsville.
“For a very long time the area of Savage and Scott County has been a strong Republican area,” she said. “Even in 2012, which was a wave year for Democrats, I won that seat with a really good margin.”
She said improving education by providing more choices and opportunities for parents and children, instead of relying on state mandates, is a top priority.
She lived in Latin America until age 6 and didn’t learn how to read until a teacher took a special interest in helping her in fifth grade. She said her experiences give her a special interest in literacy and educational opportunity.
“I knew as a child that had changed my life,” she said.
Myhra said fostering economic growth by reducing taxes is also a priority of her work, adding she would have been adamantly opposed to this year’s proposed gas tax.