Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - June 19, 2002

Congressman visits "new" district

By Michael Jacobson

After redistricting in Minnesota was announced last spring, Congressman Mark Kennedy awoke one morning and had to look down the end of his driveway to see his district. His home near Watertown was right on the border between the Second and the Sixth Congressional Districts. "Can you believe they took my hometown away from me?" he asked during a visit to Paynesville last week.

After a few days of thought, Kennedy decided he would stay in the Sixth District and run against DFL Congressman Bill Luther in the Sixth, who eventually switched districts and will now run in the Second.

Kennedy, a first-term Republican, will seek re-election in a Congressional district that is quite unfamiliar for him, though he was unanimously endorsed. Kennedy represented only 13 percent of the Sixth District in his old Second District.

Two entities that went with Kennedy to the Sixth District were the city of Paynesville and Paynesville Township. Whereas in his old Second District, Kennedy represented most of the Paynesville area, including all of Meeker and Kandiyohi counties, now the Sixth District only includes the city and township of Paynesville and the eastern part of Zion Township. Congressman Kennedy talks politics with local residents

Congressman Mark Kennedy (at right) met with (from left) Mayor Jeff Thompson, Ron Iverson, and Jean Soine at the Wishin' Well on Monday evening.

The western half of Stearns County, Kandiyohi, and Meeker are now in the Seventh District.

Kennedy wasn't worry about getting to know all the new people in his new district but he said he was concerned about the loss of rural representation, from four to three, in Minnesota, with the creation of three suburban districts to go with two metropolitan districts.

Kennedy upset four-term DFLer David Minge in 2000 in a very close race in the Second District. A hand recount was ordered because Kennedy's margin of victory was so small.

Kennedy, a former business executive, ran on four main issues: eliminating the marriage penalty; eliminating the death tax; improving hospital funding, especially rural hospitals; and expanding farm markets. He feels substantial progress was made on each issue.

He also was pleased with the tax relief passed last year and with the latest farm bill. He still looks for more work on a prescription drug bill, especially for seniors.

If re-elected, Kennedy pledges to work on transportation funding, security, education, and health care.

Working in Washington, D.C., running the government, takes a great deal of coordination. "There is more to do than you could expect," he said.

In addition to learning the ropes at the Capitol, Kennedy's first term in Congress also included 9/11. "To have your first year include the events of Sept. 11 makes it more of a full year than it might have been," he said.

Kennedy was in his office in Washington, D.C., when the planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Then, with a plane missing in the air, it was easy to think in D.C. that you'd be next. "You could look out your window and see smoke from the Pentagon. This was 15 minutes before CNN reported it," he said, which got him to thinking: Were they next?

Two days later, he visited ground zero in New York City. He has been impressed by the patriotic fervor he has seen since. "The spirit of America ­ not just there in New York but back in Minnesota as well ­ is as strong as we can remember," he said of the experience.

Another memorable experience for Kennedy since 9/11 was his visit to an aircraft carrier, where planes are catapulted off the runway at 200 mph. "How many people know we've got a dozen aircraft carriers around the world, defending us, standing guard," he said.

"I would venture that year, almost everyone did," he said.

While in Paynesville, Kennedy met with civic and school leaders and toured the hospital and local businesses.

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community