July 18, 2024

Supreme Court: Westrom is new District 12 resident

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By Reed Anfinson
Publisher

State Sen. Torrey Westrom is a resident of the new Senate District 12, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last Tuesday. The decision means his name will remain on the ballot. 

Early voting is already underway in Minnesota with Westrom’s name on the ballot with the general election set for Nov. 8.

The decision affirms the Aug. 30 ruling by Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Diane B. Bratvold that Westrom had provided enough evidence to establish his residency.

“I’m glad to finally have this frivolous attempt to disqualify me concluded by the Minnesota Supreme Court,” Westrom said in a statement after the ruling. “Their decision ends a coordinated effort by the DFL, and independent candidates to try to have me removed from the ballot.”

“I look forward to continuing to run a strong campaign by keeping the focus on the issues important to western Minnesotans,” he said. “My efforts continue to be focused on stopping high inflation and lowering costs for families, giving the large state surplus back to taxpayers through permanent ongoing tax relief, improving our rural economy and infrastructure, making sure we have more secure elections, strong schools, and safe communities.”

Ashley Klingbeil, an independent candidate running for the new District 12 Senate seat, and supporter Christine Fischer sought to have Westrom removed from the ballot, claiming he was still a resident of Elbow Lake. They claimed that his move to Lake Mary near Alexandria, part of the new Senate District 12, was a sham.

Klingbeil, of Alexandria, is a conservative running under the party label “We the People.” Fischer, who lives in Glenwood, is a supporter and helped her gather the information they believed established Westrom had not proved his residency in the new District 12.

Appleton attorney Brian Wojtalewicz joined the case on behalf of Murdock resident Victoria Guillemard. She also claimed there was evidence that Westrom had not established residency in the new district. Wojtalewicz has long been active in Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) politics.

Westrom, Klingbeil, Fischer and Wojtalewicz testified before Bratvold in a two-day hearing Aug. 24 and Aug. 25 at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul on the residency challenge.

Under the state Constitution, a candidate for the state Senate is required to have established residency six-months prior to the Nov. 8, 2022, general election. To meet that requirement, Westrom had to have established residency no later than May 8.

Westrom has been a long-time resident of Elbow Lake in Grant County. However, redistricting of the state’s legislative districts based on the 2020 U.S. Census left him in the new Senate District 9 and separated from the great majority of the constituents he has served over the past decade.

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