Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, will seek his fifth term in the Minnesota House, according to an announcement made Thursday.
The retired teacher, who represents House District 10A, said he weighed the pros and cons of running for the seat again, particularly in light of health problems he’s had to address.
“I had one knee replaced last fall,” he said Thursday “I’m having another done tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 10).”
He said the medical procedures were ones that would make his body, mind and spirit stronger. After discussing a re-election bid with his family and constituents he decided to run for another term.
“I still have the energy, the passion, along with, now, the knowledge, experience and seniority,” he said.
In his news release he outlined accomplishments of the 2013 Legislature which included fully funded all-day kindergarten, paying back the IOUs to school districts, freezing college tuition, balancing the budget and slowing the increase in property taxes.
Ward described education as the single most important investment the state can make. Recent assessments estimated that 72 percent of those pupils beginning kindergarten were deemed ready for kindergarten compared to a readiness rate in the mid-50s years ago.
“Education is a driver for a lot of different arenas in our state,” he said.
Taxpayers, he said, will notice a continuation of property tax relief initiatives in 2014.
Ward, the vice chair of the Capital Projects Committee (which handles bonding requests) said he would like to see a bonding bill of about $1 billion to handle the projects that were not addressed last year as well as new ones.
“Material prices are down. Labor costs are down,” he said. “We need to look at a decent size bill that will spur some job growth. Every job we can create in central Minnesota is important.”
He said legislators have to make many tough choices in their careers. His vote on marriage equity, to make gay marriage legal in the state, was just one such vote.
“As a legislator I weigh my voting process on my conscience first, my constituents second and my party last,” Ward said. “Certainly some issues have a higher sense of emotion and stress and impact than others but every vote is tough.
“You’ve got a red button and a green button. There’s no yellow button.”
He said he voters should look at his entire career.
“Even in difficult votes my door has always been open to my constituents.”
Ward, 63, was first elected to the Legislature in 2006.
In 2012, he defeated Republican Chris Kellett 55.04 percent to 41.42 percent.