After suffering a serious fall, a 70-year-old Maplewood man is feeling thankful to have pulled through toward the end of a long career spent under the public eye.
“I’m very grateful to survive a recent painful, accidental fall, and for the great care given by my health care team and family,” said Chuck Wiger, an eight-term state senator, retired attorney and father of five.
Wiger, a DFLer who announced in October he would not seek re-election in 2022 after some 50 years of public service, isn’t the only elected official looking forward to a happier 2022.
State lawmakers don’t always sound optimistic for better times, but after a bruising two years attempting to legislate during a public health crisis that quickly took on partisan tones, there’s plenty for some elected officials to be thankful for in their personal and professional lives.
For some, the good tidings arrived in small packages of newborn baby joy.
Sen. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, welcomed a new grandchild at Christmas, which she said “reminds us we can always appreciate the things that bring us together, especially at the holidays.”
Christmas came early, as they say, for Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, who welcomed a new granddaughter into the world three months ago. Baby Cordia arrived on her due date but wouldn’t wait for a trip to the hospital, so she was delivered in a home bathtub by a frantic mother and father. “It was a natural birth, but it wasn’t supposed to be that natural,” quipped Moran.
A low birth weight — 4 pounds, 8 ounces — added to the anxiety. For Cordia, however, it’s been a good three months. “I just saw her yesterday,” said Moran on Thursday. “She’s glowing. She’s healthy.”
Moran was also grateful this year to be appointed chair of the influential House Ways and Means committee, which reviews any bill that generates a fiscal note of associated costs, where she said she’s “able to lead with an equity lens.”
Assistant Senate Minority Leader Mary Kunesh, DFL-New Brighton, offered the following sentiments in writing.
“If one good thing came out of this COVID pandemic,” said Kunesh, “it’s that my Christmas wish for the past 10 years came true in October 2021: I have my first grandchild! I figured it would happen when it eventually happened, but I was not prepared for that emotional reaction the very first time I met my granddaughter. … Coming from a very large family consisting of 12 siblings with spouses, 44 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren between us all, new babies are still a big thing — something to be celebrated and welcomed. I waited a long time to joining the grandparent sibs… finally!”
TWO WEDDINGS AND NO COAL
Sen. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, said that “for the first time in my life, I officiated two weddings, one for my niece and one for a very dear friend. In both, I felt the love and courage and hope of commitment made by a couple who were surrounded by people rooting for them and their happiness. It felt close to normal. It is a profound proof of life.”
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, quipped, “I’m thankful that six out of the last 10 years, Santa brought me something other than coal.”
STATE MOVES FORWARD
Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, is celebrating the $7.7 billion state budget surplus, as well as “vaccines and holidays with my family.”
Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, pointed to new legislation that requires birthing hospitals and childbirth centers to provide continuing education on implicit bias and anti-racism training, and the Department of Health to study racial trends within injuries and deaths related to childbirth.
“I am grateful that Minnesota is leading the nation to address the Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls crisis and the maternal mortality crisis with my Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act,” Richardson said. “That gratitude is a reflection of the important work to be done and the hope that the future will be better than today.”
Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, and Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, crossed the partisan divide this Christmas to support the Tiny Tots Toy Drive, which Hoffman’s wife, Yvette, launched some 11 years ago hand in hand with the Buona Sera Restaurant, the Primrose School of Champlin Park and other partners. The Coon Rapids Fire Department delivered the toys to the pediatric wing of Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids and Prairie Care in Brooklyn Park.
“It is amazing, the generosity of people, even in these challenging times,” Abeler said. “May God bless us, every one.”