NORTH MANKATO — Former North Mankato City Council member Kim Spears is making his third push to represent Nicollet County and a small part of Le Sueur County at the Minnesota Legislature.
Spears, a longtime Republican, is once again running for the House District 19A seat held by Rep. Clark Johnson, DFL-North Mankato.
"I want to be an advocate," Spears said. "I want to represent every individual in my district."
Johnson announced in January he was retiring from the Legislature after this year to spend more time with his family. Spears announced his candidacy shortly after. The election for the seat is in November.
Spears served on the North Mankato City Council from 2012 to 2016, when he decided not to pursue another term to focus on his 19A campaign. He has challenged Johnson twice for the House seat. Johnson beat Spears 54 to 46 percent in 2014 and about 53 to 47 percent in 2016.
This time around, Spears said he is confident in the groundwork he's already laid within the district and believes he can surpass his DFL opponents, either St. Peter City Council member Jeff Brand or Gustavus Adolphus College senior Nick Pemberton.
One of Spears' top concerns is how the state funds and supports mental health efforts. He's interested in whether the state needs to find better ways to help people who need mental health support.
"The pendulum has kind of swung from we used to lock everybody up and put them in straitjackets," he said. "Now, the pendulum has swung completely the other way where we're letting people go free. We need to find a balance there, but that's going to require more resources, that's going to require more analysis."
Spears also advocates for leaner government, fewer taxes and more support for agricultural interests within the area.