Senate District 36: John Hoffman

 Incumbency is an asset in the Minnesota Senate. That’s especially true when the incumbent is DFL Sen. John Hoffman, who was chief sponsor or cosponsor of more bills than any other senator in 2015-16. That level of lawmaking activity is a tribute not only to Hoffman’s vigor, but also to his desirability in the eyes of colleagues in both parties as an asset in steering their bills into law.

That record in only his first term wins Hoffman our nod over an appealing Republican opponent, Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde, in a district that includes Champlin and parts of Brooklyn Park and Coon Rapids. Lunde, 49, is a Hennepin Technical College faculty member and an independent-minded local official who we hope continues in public service. We were particularly impressed with his support for the Bottineau light-rail transit line, a rarity among Republicans. But Lunde does not make a strong case for ousting Hoffman, who seems likely to be a major player at the Capitol in a second term.

Hoffman, 51, draws from a public policy well that’s both deep and wide. He was immersed in education policy during seven years on the Anoka-Hennepin School Board; he learned about the financial struggles of working families as co-founder of the nonprofit Consumer Credit of Minnesota; he’s familiar with the needs of the disabled as a current and former staffer at nonprofits that serve disabled people. In 2014, he earned a certificate in energy policy at the University of Idaho. He’s on the board of directors of the Midway Chamber of Commerce in St. Paul.

Hoffman employed that experience plus a willingness to reach across the partisan aisle to put his stamp on much of the Legislature’s output in the last four years. If District 36 voters send him back to St. Paul, they can expect him to be a leader in delivering early-childhood education to more children in a way that’s affordable for both their families and taxpayers.