U student runs for mayor-elect Kelly’s state Senate seat

Tom Ford

John Tomczak, a University senior who expects to graduate in December, intends to actively pursue a job after college.

The 23-year-old East Side neighborhood resident is running for the state Senate seat that will be vacated by St. Paul Mayor-elect Randy Kelly.

“In the middle of the summer I realized if Kelly won, I’d have a great opportunity,” he said.

Tomczak joins a group of candidates who have already begun seeking endorsements, raising money and campaigning in the St. Paul community.

Over the past four weeks, five candidates have registered campaign committees with the state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

Those candidates are Tomczak; Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul; Mee Moua, a St. Paul attorney; Michele Ford, administrator for the state Senate Income and Sales Tax Division and Greg Copeland, chairman of the St. Paul Charter Commission.

Tomczak said he differs from other politicians because he is “just a guy” who would work to ensure families in his neighborhood are not taxed at the high levels of the past.

While the East Side district is primarily Democratic, he said he’ll fight the notion that it is a “free DFL seat.”

Also campaigning against DFL tradition is Copeland, a long-time activist for public school improvements and lower taxes for East Side homeowners.

“I don’t think the DFL is getting the job done,” Copeland said. Seeking endorsement from the Republican Party, he said he would bring an independent, conservative voice to the district.

Pursuing DFL support is Moua, a University Law School graduate and president-elect of the Minnesota Hmong Chamber of Commerce. She said reducing public school class sizes and promoting adult education would be among her core campaign issues.

The race will be a special, protracted election cycle. Moua said the next two and a half months of campaigning will be worth it even if she is not elected.

“It’s a great opportunity to provoke and immobilize a lot of new Americans to be part of the political process,” she said.

The special election process will begin after Kelly officially resigns from office. Once that occurs, Gov. Jesse Ventura will determine the election date.

Renee Coffey, Ramsey County election division assistant, said it’s likely Kelly will submit his resignation near the end of the year. The election will occur approximately four weeks later, probably before Jan. 29 when the 2001-02 legislative session begins, she said.

Kelly will officially take office as St. Paul mayor Jan. 2.

Tom Ford covers St. Paul and welcomes comments at [email protected]