Klassen seeking 23A seat

Heather Klassen

FAIRMONT — New to the political process, Heather Klassen of Jackson is getting an early start on her bid to become the next state representative from District 23A.

Klassen, 42, this week announced plans to run for the seat in 2018. She is seeking the DFL endorsement.

State Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, is currently serving his 12th term representing the district, which includes portions of Martin, Faribault, Jackson and Watonwan counties.

Klassen says she would like to bring a non-partisan approach to the race.

“We are not Republicans or Democrats here [in rural Minnesota],” she says. “We are Minnesotans. We know what makes our communities strong, and we help one another and support one another. I want to provide a common sense voice for this district.”

Of major concern to her is the issue of health care. Klassen says she can offer insight because she is a MNsure-certified insurance broker. She has worked in the insurance industry for 15 years. She is currently the agent/office manager at Complete Insurance Services in Jackson.

“I work with health insurance every day,” she said. “If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, it will be up to our state to take care of our people. With my experience in this field, I know that I can help ensure that rural Minnesotans are protected. I plan to legislate by listening to all sides and building a consensus for what’s right for rural Minnesotans.”

Besides health care, she is focusing on two other issues she believes are important for this part of the state: rural infrastructure and a living wage. She said rural highways and internet infrastructure could both use improvements. And she says she knows people who are working several jobs — and 50-60 hours per week — just to pay their mortgages. As for specific remedies, Klassen says she is spending a lot of time right now listening to people so she can become educated about what they are facing and how she might be able to help them.

According to information on her website: Klassen graduated from Jackson High School in 1993, moving on to Augustana College in Sioux Falls. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in journalism in 1996.

After college, she lived in Sioux Falls for a few years before returning to her hometown to work and raise her family. In 1999, she started a career with the Jackson County Pilot newspaper as a reporter, eventually becoming editor.

She transitioned to the insurance world in 2002.

Klassen has been a member of the Jackson Kiwanis Club since 2004, serving as president three times. She is also a member and past recording secretary for Jackson’s PEO Chapter CB, an international women’s organization with a focus on promoting women’s education. As her children have grown, Klassen has volunteered on numerous school committees.

As a long-time member of the Jackson United Methodist Church, she has taught Sunday school, Bible school and volunteered on many committees.

Klassen and her husband, Tim, live south of Butterfield. He is a self-employed nurse anesthetist in rural Minnesota. The couple have five children, ranging in age from 19 to 12.