House District 35A: Boals, Whelan after Abeler’s spot in GOP primary


The only local Minnesota House seat heading for a primary election this year is 35A, covering Anoka, Ramsey and part of Andover.

After 16 years representing the district, Rep. Jim Abeler is not seeking re-election to the House, instead running in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Al Franken, DFL. Voters in 35A will narrow the field, choosing between Republicans Justin Boals and Abigail Whelan in the Aug. 12 primary. Whelan received the endorsement from the local GOP earlier this year. The winner will go against DFL’er Peter Perovich.

Justin Boals

ABC Newspapers asked the candidates to answer a couple of question, in advance of the primary, so voters can get to know them better.

1. Biography

JUSTIN BOALS: Age: 40; married to Keva and father to Tori, Tyler, Noah and Connor; 1992 graduate of Windsor High School; former U.S. Army; inventory analyst/pharmacy technician for AlixaRx; member of Minnesota State Drug Utilization Review Board; president of Manorcrest Home Owners Association; former commissioner on Anoka Economic Development Commission..

ABIGAIL WHELAN: My parents instilled a passion for policy that led me to study political science, history and economics at the University of Minnesota and public policy at the Humphrey School, where I earned my M.A.

Abigail Whelan

I have extensive policy-related experience, having worked for nonprofits, the Minnesota Legislature and currently in business development at Yellow Rose Home Care. I am 26 and believe that now, more than ever, my generation needs to step up and serve.

2. What qualities will you bring to the council if elected?

BOALS: If elected, I will bring a fiscally conservative approach to government spending, respect for the difference of opinion and appreciation of the diversity of the fabric of our community.

WHELAN: I will bring a passion for serving others and making Minnesota a better place to live. Our founding fathers believed legislating was about service, and I agree. Our district has a strong history of service-driven leadership that I intend to emulate. While in office, I will serve and work with others to improve this great state.

I also bring relevant education and experience as staffer in the Minnesota Legislature, both of which will allow me to act knowledgeably on the issues my constituents tell me matter. I know what it takes to see a bill become a law: the long hours, the numerous meetings and, most importantly, the perseverance. I will not give up when running into roadblocks.

Finally, having worked in the nonprofit sector (including in ministry), I’ve taken time to learn why it is important to actively listen. I will bring this quality to the office I seek to hold. I care very deeply about this district, and I know that this will guide me well. If elected, my constituents may rest assured knowing that I will listen and respond to their concerns.

3. What is the main emphasis of your campaign?

BOALS: The main emphasis of my campaign is the protection and broadening of personal rights, liberties and freedoms and a smaller, limited government.

WHELAN: I want to help create an economic environment that promotes job growth by reducing onerous taxes and wasteful spending. The past legislative session saw some of the most blatant examples of wasteful spending in recent years, with politicians allocating funds for an unnecessary new office building and seeking a pay increase. We need to prioritize things that matter to everyday Minnesotans, like roads, bridges and education. That is where my focus will be.

Indeed, one of my main priorities will be to see highways 10 and 47 upgraded. Both highways see incredibly high commute times during peak hours. Not only is this frustrating to commuters, but there have been far too many fatalities over the past few years. I will work to secure the funding needed to fix our roads, protecting our families and reducing commutes.

I also believe we need to increase local control in our schools and allow our parents, teachers and school boards to make the decisions affecting our children. Each district is unique, and the challenges we face are often very different than those faced by other districts.

I care deeply about our district. I will work with those I seek to represent to make Minnesota an even better place to live and raise a family.