Best Seat in the House

Rep. Chad Anderson and ’02 graduate champions for the community of Bloomington in the Minn. House of Representatives.

Sarah Nelson | Staff Writer

In the midst of a heated presidential race that is motivating young and old alike to cast their votes, local government is also prepping for the polls to open on Nov. 8. For Minn. Rep. Chad Anderson, an ‘02 Bethel alum, the fall election comes just months after his inauguration in Feb.

The unassuming dad of four admits he never thought of entering the world of politics, as he graduated Bethel with a B.A. in business-marketing, already equipped with a real-estate license he earned at the age of 18.

best seat in the houseBut when former State Rep. Ann Lenczewski resigned halfway through her term, Anderson embraced the opportunity to represent his city of Bloomington; encouraged by his wife and father-in-law, Minn. Senator Dan Hall.

“Everybody’s a little political, whether they admit to it or not,” Anderson explained about his journey into politics.

Once determined to fill Lenczewski’s seat in the House, Anderson’s campaign took off. Though he knew District 50B historically voted liberal, the conservative Anderson looked past ideology.

I think it’s more of a relationship district,” he said. “But I think people want someone who will be here and listen to their thoughts and bring their thoughts to the capital.”

With this in mind, he and his campaign team went door to door every day near the end of December, facing the -10 degree weather for more than four hours. They would visit the same house three times over a period of a month, trying to create relationships and show he was concerned about what each person had to say. He also spent many hours on the phone talking to potential voters.

His message was to be a voice for the citizens of Bloomington, something he thinks truly resonated with the constituents. On the Feb. 9 Election Day, his mother and uncle assisted in campaign efforts, driving people to the polls, some who hadn’t cast a ballot in decades. His effort and time proved worth it once the results came in that he had won the special election, holding 51 percent of the vote over Democratic opponent Andrew Carlson.

Now entering his third month in office, Anderson reflects on how Bethel prepared him for his new position.

I think college at Bethel was really good at helping me think and understand and realize there’s different ways about doing things,” he said.

During his time at Bethel, Anderson was a forward on the hockey team and also participated in the Bethel Business and Economic Association. A large, framed poster of vintage MIAC hockey jerseys hangs behind his desk, the first sight when opening the door to his office.

best seat in the house 2Though he is part of the Aging and Long-Term Care, Government Operations and Transportation Policy committees, Anderson says he is willing to listen to anything the people of Bloomington have to say about any of the issues in their community. He says much of his daily work involves listening.

On one Saturday in April, he dedicated two hours in a coffee shop to listen to voters and assure them he will bring their side to the table. He says he is appreciative of those who take their time to inform him about issues they care about.

“It’s just amazing how [people] are so passionate,” he said. “I love it.”

According to the Pew Research Center, interest in political institution continues to wane, especially among young Americans. In Anderson’s experience, he finds people of various demographics are visiting their local legislators. He wishes the pattern would grow even larger.

“It does make a difference,” Anderson said. “Their stories do make a difference, the time they come up and spend does make a difference.”

Currently, Anderson is finishing as much work as possible before the end of the biennial session in the House which is projected to be over May 23. He is also celebrating the passing of his first bill, HF3175, a plan that strengthens background checks for Drivers Education instructors and passed unanimously with a 129-0 vote in the House.