Baxter City Council member Mary Marana was unanimously endorsed by Republicans for the District 12B legislative seat at Saturday's Senate District 12 endorsing convention in Brainerd.
The 10-year council member will challenge Rep. Steve Wenzel, a 28-year House member who is anticipated to file for re-election this fall.
Her entry into the race solidifies District 12's Republican line-up for the fall of 2000. Receiving unanimous endorsement at Franklin Junior High on Saturday were Marana; Paul Koering, the District 12 Senate candidate; and Dale Walz, the District 12A candidate.
Marana, an account executive for KLKS Radio, wants to see control of the Profiles of Learning return to the individual school districts rather than the state.
The Bemidji native said she considers Wenzel a friend, has worked with him in the past and acknowledges his advantage in name recognition in the district. Those points aside, she thinks she can unseat the longtime incumbent.
She had been asked to challenge Wenzel in other years but thought her children were too young. This year she accepted the challenge.
"It's an opportunity to be able to help my fellow Minnesotans at a greater level," she said.
Describing herself as pro-life on the abortion issue, Marana said she was displeased with Gov. Jesse Ventura's recent veto of a bill that called for a 24-hour waiting period for women who seek abortions.
Excessive state spending will be another focus of Marana's campaign.
"I'd like to see us get a control on tax dollars," she said.
The mother of two children, who also is hosting an exchange student this year, believes she can offer voters a fresh perspective and an "innocence" without being a single-issue candidate. She pledged to look at the issues objectively.
"My district has a lot of common areas as well as differences," she said. "We have agriculture as well as a major retail center. They both need to be treated equally."
A Brainerd lakes area resident for 17 years, she has lived in the city of Baxter for 16 years. She was born and grew up in Bemidji and graduated from Bemidji State University with a double major of music and education.
She also studied at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and took business management courses at the University of Minnesota. Her past civic involvement includes service as president of both the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen board and the Baxter Lioness Club. She also was interim mayor of Baxter.
Marana currently serves on the Brainerd School District Community Education Board and is a member of the Brainerd Sertoma Club. She's a member of Lakewood Evangelical Free Church.
At the endorsing convention, Koering, a Fort Ripley area dairy farmer, criticized Ventura's veto of the bill dealing with the abortion-related, 24-hour waiting period.
"I am outraged that the governor vetoed this important bill," he said in a news release with excerpts from his speech. "This bill was an important step toward protecting the unborn. In the Senate I will keep working to change hearts. I will be pro-life in both words and actions."
Walz, an investigator with the Baxter Police Department, and an Oak Lawn Township resident in Crow Wing County, is making his second bid to unseat Rep. Kris Hasskamp, DFL-Crosby.
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