DFL Rep. Norton won't seek re-election in Rochester 'swing seat'


State Rep. Kim Norton has announced she will not seek re-election next year, stepping down after a decade in the House.

In 2006, Norton, DFL-Rochester, became the first woman and first Democrat to represent her district and ran unopposed in her most recent election. She said she is now "ready for a change."

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of my community," she said in a statement issued Thursday. "I’m ready for a change and just trust that new opportunities await that will be fulfilling for me in the years to come and I look forward to discovering them!”

Her exit could have significant implications for Democrats in the House, with

">Pioneer Press reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger saying the Rochester district is "thought to be swingy."

It could prove to be a target for Republicans looking to increase the majority it won in the Minnesota House this past November.

Norton cited her passion for working in education, children's health and workforce development over the past decade, with the DFL statement saying she was "instrumental" in passing legislation concerning seat belts, Autism insurance coverage, and graduated drivers' licenses.

She held leadership positions in her caucus including assistant majority and minority leader.

"We are really going to miss Kim." House DFL Leader Paul Thissen said in a statement.

He added: "She was a legislator who could get the seemingly impossible done – passing changes to driver training and the seatbelt law which has prevented hundreds of tragic stories in Minnesota and her work to make sure children with autism get the services they need come to mind immediately."

While not explicit on her next move, the 57-year-old said she intends to continue her involvement in the University of Arizona's Institute for Civil Discourse, from which she recently received training "in an effort to improve political climate and civility among legislators across the country."

The Post Bulletin meanwhile reports she is mulling a bid to run for Mayor of Rochester in 2018, saying she could help implement the laws she helped pass to pave the way for the $6 billion Destination Medical Center development in her home city.

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