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Gazelka switches districts to run in District 9

In a game of political musical chairs, Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, announced Monday he’ll move into the newly created Senate District 9, clearing the way for fellow Republican Carrie Ruud, to run for the new Senate District 10 seat.

Gazelka, who served one term in the state House and is serving his first term in the Senate, said the move would allow him to continue to represent Camp Ripley and Morrison County.

The new Senate District 9 has no incumbent senator living within its borders. Gazelka said he and his family plan to look for a home in the East Gull Lake/Pillsbury Forest area. He currently lives north of Gilbert Lake. By May 1, he said, he will either have purchased a home or will be renting a home in the new district.

District 9 includes Wadena, Staples, Todd County and virtually all of Morrison County, Gazelka said. He would no longer represent Brainerd, Baxter and Nisswa, which will be in the new District 10. Gazelka said he talked with Ruud and later contacted Senate leaders and told them of his plan. He told them they didn’t need to recruit a candidate for Senate District 9.

“It was really my decision,” he said.

Gazelka said the move would most likely be only a few miles west of his Baxter insurance office.

“Redistricting has brought a lot of changes — legislators being paired together and areas that have no current legislator representing them,” he wrote in a statement. “It’s important that we move forward to fill all of the districts with great candidates so Minnesotans have the best folks representing them in the Legislature.”

Gazelka, 52, said his focus is on private sector job growth through permitting reform, tort reform and business taxation policies.

“We want to create an environment where businesses want to come in, grow and expand,” he said.

The assistant majority leader said tremendous reforms have been accomplished recently. He said he currently serves on a sunset commission and on a state government reform panel.

The sunset commission reviews state agencies and advisory committees to determine key performance factors including efficiency, whether they meet their goals and overlap and duplication with other agencies.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or