Two U legislators retire, share memories

by Erin Ghere

Many would agree the best way to legislate for the University is to know it from the inside.
Rep. Lee Greenfield, DFL-Minneapolis, and Sen. Carol Flynn, DFL-Minneapolis, did just that.
Both finished their final legislative session in May and have announced their retirements, effective Dec. 31 at midnight. Their seats will be filled during the November elections.
But their retirements will leave two large holes at the state Capitol.
“They are really good people, both of them,” said Donna Peterson, a University legislative liaison. “They will be greatly missed.”
Greenfield has represented the West Bank for 22 years, beginning his political career as a University graduate student in the 1970s. While earning a philosophy of science master’s, Greenfield got involved in anti-war and civil rights protests.
Politics was a logical extension, he said.
Flynn worked as a University receptionist and administrator for 15 years. She left in 1970, but returned 20 years later to win the West Bank senate seat.
“I was very familiar with the University and understood it well,” she said.
Greenfield said he too felt comfortable representing the mostly student district because of his time at the University.
“Both came with a very thorough and complete knowledge of the mission of the University,” Peterson said.
Flynn was the first woman to serve as the transportation committee chairwoman, her main goal to find an alternative to the single-occupancy vehicle.
“Now we have a governor who understands that too,” she added.
Flynn said her relations with Gov. Jesse Ventura have been good, although his election surprised her. She has agreed with many of Ventura’s decisions — including vetoing abortion legislation this spring — but he is hard to predict, she said.
“That’s part of his voting appeal,” Flynn added.
Watching Ventura has been interesting, Greenfield said. As chair of a subcommittee of the health and human services committee, Greenfield has worked with many of the commissioners Ventura’s appointed and has been impressed.
Greenfield’s interest in health and human services led him to the chair position 11 years ago, and to have a large hand in state health care reform in the early 1980s.
Both Greenfield and Flynn said it just was the right time to leave the Legislature, but for different reasons.
Flynn said abortion legislation passed this spring was just one sign the time had come.
In 1990, the state Legislature attempted to pass a bill to in-effect undue the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling. Flynn was the deciding committee vote to kill the bill, a vote she received death threats for. She said it was disappointing to see the issue once again have strength in the Legislature.
In addition, Flynn, 66, said she wants to travel and move into downtown Minneapolis. “It was the right time,” she said.
Greenfield, 59, agreed. At most he would only have been able to chair the health and human services subcommittee for two more years (by House rules) and didn’t want to do anything else.
But Greenfield will not retire entirely; he is looking for another job in a health-related field.

Erin Ghere welcomes comments at [email protected]