St. Michael City Council member Kevin Kasel made it official Tuesday, filing paperwork to run for the Republican nomination for the House District 30B seat. He will square off in a primary this August against GOP-endorsed candidate Eric Lucero of Dayton, who was given the nod at the GOP Caucuses in February.
Kasel, a hastings native and former Marine, said he’s had “plenty of conversations” over the last two months and has been persuaded to run, believing House District 30B, which is comprised of Otsego, St. Michael, Albertville, Hanover and a small portion of Dayton, needs local representation from “someone who knows the area.”
The viewpoint that we have is that we need a better candidate than what we’ve got,” Kasel said, directly. “I certainly respect the process, but there was a small faction in Wright County’s Republican Party who were upset by what happened with [Rep.] David [FitzSimmons] and the marriage equality vote in 2013, and they’re perfectly right to have those views. But the district deserves to have someone who knows the St. Michael area, who will focus on the issues here. And that’s why I’m running.”
Over his past seven years on St. Michael City Council, Kasel has emerged as the voice of conservative thought. He’s voted against government involvement in such things as tax breaks to encourage residential development, believing “patience” is the thing that St. Michael needs most to get the market back on track.
“St. Michael and Albertville are such a connected area, and you can add Hanover and Otsego into that mix. We have the same issues in our communities and I’ve been on the front line when it comes to discussing that, and I’ve been the kind of conservative voice in that conversation. We have the things here people are looking for: good schools, a lot of strong, family-owned businesses, good infrastructure. You have to feel that it will come back around here.”
Kasel is targeting school funding as a primary issue for if and when he gets to St. Paul, saying he’s cognizant of the inequitable funding districts like STMA, Elk River and Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose face when it comes to competing for talent.
“We’re losing good teachers because districts just a few miles away can afford to pay them more. And we’re paying more in local taxes because the funding is just skewed. It doesn’t need more money. It needs a new system. And I can work with both sides to make that part of the discussion,” he said.
Kasel said he backed FitzSimmons, openly, at the GOP Caucus in February, but respected his decision to pull out of the process.
“He gave us an active presence. He got the MnDOT Transportation Commissioner here, in our backyard, to talk about the Interstate issue, and now it’s part of the Corridors of Commerce project. You need to find those points you can agree on and you can’t compromise your values in doing so, and then move forward.”
Kasel and his wife, Linda, have been married 27 years. They have two children, including a son who graduates high school this year. The former youth coach and Cub Scout leader has been involved in local government since 2005. He said this isn’t something he fully planned on doing in his political career, but is excited about the opportunity.
“I think when I was younger, I might have flirted with this idea,” he said. “But now’s the right time. I really enjoyed my time on council. I think it was a great fit. I didn’t feel the need, during that time, to get into the partisan fray. But my kids are adults, and my wife is supportive of it. So it’s the right time. I see an opportunity to not really try to un-do things that have already been done, but to really get into St. Paul and do things that can move us forward together.”
The Minnesota DFL will host its convention May 30 and June 1. It is expected to name a House District 30B candidate at that time.