Longtime state legislator David Tomassoni has been diagnosed with ALS.
Tomassoni revealed the news in a letter published in the Mesabi Tribune newspaper, writing in part: "There is no sugar coating it — this is a tough disease, and I will feel the effects of it in my speech, my movement, and my life."
The 68-year-old represents Minnesota State Senate District 6, covering much of Minnesota's Iron Range, including HIbbing, Virginia, Eveleth and his current home of Chisholm. In his letter, Tomassoni said he plans to continue to serve "to the best of my abilities like I have always tried to do in elected office."
"I give you my word that my brain and my body will continue to represent you with the same passion and vigor I’ve tried to give in the past," he wrote.
ALS, short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It is a progressive, neurodegenerative illness that affects muscle control. Those with the disease may eventually lose the ability to even speak or breathe. There is currently no known cure.
Tomassoni won re-election on Nov. 3, 2020, having run as a member of the DFL Party with which he had been affiliated for nearly 30 years. But days later, he and fellow northern Minnesota Sen. Tom Bakk announced they were leaving the DFL caucus to become independents. Both identify as moderate on the political spectrum, and will often vote with the Republican Party on issues related to mining and timber.
Tomassoni has served as a state senator for 20 years. He was elected to Minnesota State Senate District 5 in 2000, and continued to win the seat when it shifted to Minnesota State Senate District 6 for the 2012 election. Prior to that, he spent four legislative sessions as state representative for District 05B, winning his first state legislative race in 1992.
He has served in multiple leadership positions including, most recently, President Pro Tempore.
Prior to joining the state Legislature, he had a prolific hockey career in Italy, playing 16 seasons over there and joining the country's Olympic team in 1984.
Said Tomassoni in his letter: "I have been fortunate and blessed in my life, my career, in sports, and with friends and a great family. This is the next challenge."