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Minnesota Supreme Court rules state senator meets residency requirements

The court backed a court-appointed referee who determined state Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Alexandria, lives within the boundaries of the new Senate District 12 and meets the residency requirements for the 2022 general election.

Minnesota state Sen. Torrey Westrom has served in the Senate since 2013.
Minnesota state Sen. Torrey Westrom has served in the Senate since 2013.
Echo Press file photo
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ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Supreme Court backed a court-appointed referee who determined state Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Alexandria, lives within the boundaries of the new Senate District 12 and meets the residency requirements for the 2022 general election.

The court made the decision on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

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

On Aug. 8, Ashley Klingbeil of Alexandria, an independent candidate running for the District 12 Senate seat, and her campaign manager, filed a petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court, asking the court to remove Westrom’s name from the Nov. 8 ballot. They alleged that Westrom had not established his residency in the district by May 8, the required six months from the general election.

After redistricting, Senate District 12 comprises portions of Douglas and Stearns and all of Big Stone, Pope, Stevens and Swift counties. Klingbeil’s petition claimed that Westrom was still living in Elbow Lake, which is not in Senate District 12.

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After the referee judge ruled in favor of Westrom on Aug. 31, Klingbeil said that while she disagreed that Westrom met the residency requirement, she respected the court's decision that the petition did not meet the burden of proof.

The Supreme Court rejected all the petitioners’ objections, stating, “We conclude that these objections fail.” The Supreme Court made the final decision based on the lower court’s findings and additional scrutiny.

Three candidates are vying for the Minnesota Senate District 12 office — Westrom, Klingbeil, who listed her party affiliation as "We the People," and Kari Dorry, the DFL-endorsed candidate from Ortonville.

While results still need to be certified, Minnesota was just one of three states to top the 60% mark, along with Wisconsin and Maine, according to the U.S. Election Project.
How Republicans and Democrats fared compared to two years ago.
Voter turnout was down 4% in Minnesota and 6% nationwide in the Nov. 8 election when compared to the 2018 midterm.
With control of the two legislative chambers and the governor’s office, DFL lawmakers and Gov. Tim Walz will be able to take more decisive action on policy priorities as they will no longer have to make major compromises with Senate Republicans. That could include increasing funding for education, the creation of a paid family leave program, and the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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