Friday, January 28, 2011 By Aaron Brown
HIBBING — A former state legislator has joined the race for Minnesota House District 5B.
John J. Spanish, of Hibbing, filed for the post Jan. 18 and formally announced his candidacy Monday. He served in the state House District 63 seat from 1969 to 1970 and in the District 5B seat from 1973 to 1978.
Spanish is running for the House seat vacated by Tony Sertich earlier this month. The former legislator, running on the Independence Party ticket, lost to Sertich in 2004 and lost as a DLFer in 2000.
This winter Spanish will vie for the DFL spot on the ballot in the Feb. 1 Primary Election.
“During my travels in the area, I found the response overwhelming to encouraging,” he said of his campaign.
Spanish said if elected he will draw on his eight years of legislative experience.
As a representative, Spanish served as vice chair of the Higher Education Committee, and on the committees for Health and Welfare; Crime Prevention and Correction; Commerce and Economic Development; and General Legislation and Veterans Affairs, he said.
Spanish said if elected he will ask to serve on the same committees.
While in the legislature, Spanish also worked to promote completion of the Highway 169 Cross Iron Range Expressway, he said.
Spanish worked to procure funding and establish a budget system for its completion and worked to establish white driving lines, which makes driving safer, he said.
“The Iron Range Expressway four-lane highway when completed, will make driving safer during adverse weather conditions,” he said.
Spanish is a World War II combat veteran, who served in all theaters of war, he said. He is also a retired machinist and diesel mechanic who worked for mines in Hibbing, Chisholm and Mountain Iron.
Spanish served as president of Local 1663 in the Hibbing and Chisholm districts and was a member of USWA Local 1938 Minntac at Mountain Iron.
As a legislator, Spanish said he would work with the taconite industry “to maintain good, high-paying jobs.” He’d also work with other employers to “safeguard, retain and keep taconite funding benefits on the Iron Range,” he said.
Spanish supports health care, education, the Clean Air Act and environmental protections for drinking water and the state’s lakes and streams. He is a pro-life candidate.
Spanish was born and raised in Hibbing and is a lifelong resident of the community.
“If elected I propose to work with other members of the legislature for the common good of all,” he said.
Other DFL candidates include Jeff Kletscher, Carly Melin, Ray Pierce Jr. and Shelley Robinson. The Feb. 1 DFL primary winner will face Republican Paul Jacobson and IP candidate Cynthia Kafut Hagen in the Feb. 15 general election.