Thursday, July 21, 2005

See ya, Joe 

The headline in the local paper was that state representative Joe Opatz is resigning from the legislature to take an interim post as president of Central Lakes College. Joe is an administrator at SCSU, though his post as associate VP for academic affairs has largely been one of helping provide the university with information from St. Paul.

Interestingly, under the rules in MnSCU, he cannot become the permanent president at CLC. He says, "I'm hopeful that there will be more opportunities in higher education after this." One possibility could be right back here, as current President Roy Saigo has had the position for some time and is approaching his 65th birthday.

So it is possible that all three St. Cloud legislators could turn over in the next 18 months, if Senator Dave Kleis wins the mayor's race here in the Cloud and Jim Knoblach gets the Republican nomination for the U.S. House race. As the article notes, those three have been our legislators since January 1995.

People ask me about Opatz, and I have to say I've liked him as a colleague (and an occassional reader here). He is interested and thinks a good bit about higher education policy, and while we disagree some on funding and aid issues those discussions have always been pleasant. He has largely been faithful to the DFL caucus in the House and thus I'm not as happy with him as a legislator. But St. Cloud is a funny place: We're considered a conservative town, yet Opatz and Ellenbecker have been elected here several times (in the latter case only once as mayor, but was a top candidate in city council elections for years before). It's anybody's guess who will replace him.