Nick Zerwas will run for Minnesota House of Representatives

Click here to see a map of the new House District 30A.

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

Nick Zerwas has announced he is running for the Minnesota House of Representatives in a new district that includes Elk River and Big Lake.

Nick Zerwas

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, is the incumbent in that district, 30A, but she has announced plans to run for an open Senate seat.

Minnesota’s legislative district lines were redrawn based on the results of the 2010 census. The new maps were released Tuesday.

Zerwas is currently a member of the Elk River City Council. He was first elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.

An Elk River native, Zerwas said he has a strong connection to the community.

In addition to serving on the City Council, he is on the Minnesota Department of Transportation 7W policy board that prioritizes transportation projects for the region. He also was the campaign manager for Joel Brott when Brott successfully ran for Sherburne County sheriff in 2010.

Zerwas said he developed an interest and passion for politics at a young age attending Elk River City Council meetings with his dad, Tom, who was Elk River’s police chief before retiring in 2003.

Zerwas believes government must be fiscally responsible.

With the downturn in the economy, he said government has two potential responses. One is to arm the people of the state with the resources to dig out of the problem. The other is to continue to grow the size, scope and bureaucracy of state government to try to get out of the situation.

“I don’t think the second option is viable,” Zerwas said.

When the city of Elk River had trouble making ends meet, Zerwas said they had to make some difficult cuts including layoffs and significant budget and program reductions.

“The other option was to try to meet our needs through tax increases and we’re at a point where we just can’t put more burden onto families right now,” Zerwas said. “Government needs to change and adapt. Families shouldn’t be put in the position to bear that.”

A 1999 graduate of Elk River High School and a 2003 graduate of Hamline University in St. Paul, Zerwas and his wife, Julie, live in Elk River.

He has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a certificate in forensic science. He worked as a forensic scientist for the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and, more recently, for Target before being laid off in December.

He also is an author.

Born with a congenital heart defect, Zerwas was on the list for a heart transplant in the mid-1990s. He ended up having surgery instead — his 10th — and is in good health today. He details his life story in “The Gift of an Open Heart,” an autobiography he wrote in 2005. He still travels with his book and does motivational speaking, talking about living each day to the fullest.

Zerwas said he was very fortunate to have amazing support from his family and the community when facing his health issues.

“This entire community rallied around my family and around me,” Zerwas said. “We’re forever grateful for that support.”

He looks at being on the City Council and serving in political office as an opportunity to give back.