Click here to see a map of House District 30A.
Click here to read an archive story about redistricting and the open legislative seats in the Elk River area.
by Joni Astrup
A third Elk River man has entered the race for an open Minnesota House of Representatives seat.
Chad Westberg, a member of the Elk River Planning Commission, is running in House District 30A. Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, is the incumbent but she is running for an open Senate seat instead.
Westberg is the third Republican to announce he is running for the House District 30A seat, which covers Elk River and Big Lake. The other two candidates are Christopher Kumpula and Nick Zerwas.
The three are vying for the Republican endorsement.
Westberg is the founder and CEO of Jera Farms LLC and its subsidiary Jera Tea Company. It is an agricultural company that specializes in farming the zero calorie natural sweetener stevia.
“We are one of a few companies that can successfully cultivate this plant on a large scale in the U.S.,” he said.
Westberg has a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he also played football, and a master’s degree in plant biology from the University of Minnesota. He also has taught at the University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Asked why he decided to seek the Minnesota House of Representatives seat, Westberg said he is running to reduce the size and cost of bureaucratic government.
“I have personally had to contend with government overreach, excess paperwork and bureaucratic requirements in my experiences as a business owner and an educator,” he said. “Every dollar and every hour spent doing paperwork is a dollar and an hour not getting customers or hiring employees.”
“Businesses need customers. Customers need jobs. Government needs to get out of the way,” he added.
This is his first time running for elected office, but he is in his fifth year as a member of the Elk River Planning Commission and served a year as its chair.
He also has served on Elk River’s 171st Focused Area Study joint commission for long-term development surrounding the North Star Rail project, has coached football at Spectrum High School in Elk River and currently coaches football at Elk River High School.
He said he also has been involved in a multitude of his children’s activities.
Westberg is a fifth generation resident of the Elk River/Big Lake area. His great-grandfather’s Orrock Township farm is still in the family.
Asked what skills he has that would make him a good representative, Westberg said he would bring real world experience to the job.
He has started multiple businesses which required him to create, modify, and stick to budgets and described himself as an avid reader and a creative problem solver.
He also has worked extensively with children.
Westberg and his wife, Sarah, have three children “which personalize and emphasize the need of parental involvement in the development and education of our children,” he said.
He also has worked for the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus and been directly been involved in the process of policy implementation, he said.