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Republican newcomers in Senate District 9 buck DFL trend

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The Brainerd lakes area’s two newly elected Republican state representatives Mark Anderson of Lake Shore and Ron Kresha of Little Falls were notable exceptions to the success of Democratic legislative candidates in other parts of the state. Anderson was elected to represent House District 9A (which includes parts of Cass, Wadena and Todd counties) and Kresha was elected to represent House District 9B (which includes parts of Morrison and Todd counties).

Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Cass County, was also re-elected to the Senate, this time in the newly drawn District 9.

For Anderson a new job will not be the only change in his life. He said Thursday he was on his way to get a marriage license. He and Barb Peterson of Tonka Bay plan to marry Nov. 21.

“Is that enough for one month of November?” he asked.

The 54-year-old contract pilot and instructor said he will continue to focus on jobs and the economy despite the DFL gaining the majority of seats in both the House and the Senate.

“Whether the House leadership will have that same thinking or agenda remains to be seen,” Anderson said.

The former owner of Channel Inn and Granny’s Pub, Anderson is the son of Don Anderson who represented the Wadena area from 1983 to 1990.

“I’ve been through several campaigns before,” he said. “We had a real good team.”

Anderson defeated Don Niles of Wadena 10,972-7,922 or 57.97 percent to 41.86 percent.

The area’s other rookie lawmaker will be Kresha, the president of the Golden Shovel Agency, which helps communities improve their online economic development presence. He also is a co-founder and former chief financial officer for Atomic Learning.

The 42-year-old Little Falls man said he’ll concentrate on education and rural economic development, particularly in Todd and Morrison counties. He described himself as optimistic and excited about his legislative carer.

With a background in business Kresha said he was used to getting results and he felt the message from the voters was for lawmakers to “get down to St. Paul and get something done for once.” Kresha said the way the election went opportunities are opened up for legislators to do that.

“I hope that opportunity holds,” Kresha said. “I hope we can be true to that.”

Kresha defeated Adrian Welle of Pierz 9,881-8,751 or 52.97 percent to 46.91 percent.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860