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A new face in District 10B

At age 26, Joe Radinovich is the youngest member of the Minnesota Legislature. He represents House District 10B, which includes Crosslake, Fifty Lakes, Manhattan Beach and Emily, as well as much of Crow Wing County and all of Aitkin County.

Joe said he’s always been ambitious.

“I think of myself as somebody naturally inclined to raise my hand,” he said.

Joe lives in Crosby as a fourth-generation iron ranger. He owns a home there; but lately, of course, he has spent a lot of time in St. Paul.

“There’s a kind of awe you get as you come into the capital,” Joe said.

When speaking of his age, Joe said that while he’s the youngest at the Minnesota Capitol, he’s also among a group 42 freshmen legislators. So he’s part of a large group of people with a similar amount of experience.

Though he spends much of the week at the state Capitol, he makes the drive back to Crosby on the weekends. At the North Country Café, Joe knows most everyone sitting in the booths around him, and the waitress already knows his order.

In high school, Joe was known for his running abilities. He holds the Crosby-Ironton High School record for the mile at 4 minutes, 24 seconds. He still runs regularly, and also enjoys hunting and fishing, dark house spearing and mountain biking. He’s unmarried with no children, though his girlfriend has a son, and he’s also a Kinship Partner with an 11-year-old. He has two dogs — a lab and a German shorthair.

Joe recently quit his job at the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, to take his representative position. He said he’ll still take on consulting work and freelance projects as time allows. He also has experience working on local campaigns; he ran the late Meg Bye’s campaign in 2010 for state representative and was very involved in her 2008 campaign as well.

His inclination to politics, he said, could come from the fact that he grew up in a political household — not political in the sense that any of his family members were politicians, but that each had strong opinions. His father is a Democrat, his mother a Republican. He often found his beliefs challenged.

“At a certain point you have to decide your guiding principles,” he said.

Joe remembers attending a school board meeting in eighth grade, when his school was seeing major budget cuts. There were several hundred people in attendance.

He said he saw first-hand the effects of those cuts on his education.

“So many of the decisions that affected my school were made at the state level,” Joe said.

Education was one of Joe’s main campaign issues, and his committee assignments include the K-12 education finance committee and early childhood and youth development policy committee.

Joe’s No. 1 goal is to get more money in rural schools. Overall, he wants to do his best to serve his constituents and be a hard-working representative.

“I want to focus on things that directly impact the community,” he said. “A lot of people see problems and complain,” Joe said. “I wanted to put my money where my mouth is. I want to continue to do the best work I can for my community.”