Monday, June 17, 2024
Where does Sue Ek live? (story audio)
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Where does Sue Ek live?

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Republican legislative candidate Sue Ek says she lives with her parents in St Cloud, and works out of an office in her parents other house in St Paul. The Minnesota DFL says she's living at the house in St Paul and so is ineligable to run for the open seat in St Cloud. (MPR file photo)
Some Minnesota Democrats are questioning whether a Republican candidate for a St. Cloud state house seat actually lives in the district she seeks to represent. State DFL officials claim Sue Ek lives in St. Paul, where she runs a business out of her home, and only recently claimed residency at her parent's home in St. Cloud. Ek says her family owns houses in both cities, and considers herself a St. Cloud resident who commutes to St. Paul for work.

St. Cloud, Minn. — DFL leaders are convinced Sue Ek, a Republican candidate in a special election in St. Cloud's district 15B, doesn't actually live in St. Cloud.

DFL party spokesman David Ruth claims Ek lives in St. Paul, and is breaking state law by running for a St. Cloud house seat.

"First of all it's a legal concern," Ruth says. "First and foremost you have to be a resident of the last six months to run for office in your area,"

Ruth says he can prove Sue Ek doesn't live in St. Cloud. He says her car is registered in St. Paul, and she was the vice chair for a Twin Cities Republican party congressional district until recently. He says her name and number are in the St. Paul phone book. Ruth says the most obvious evidence is that Sue Ek's neighbors in St. Paul says she lives in a house in the city's Highland Park neighborhood.

"They claim that Miss Ek has been a neighbor for quite a while and was surprised that she was running in St. Cloud," he says. "So we spoke to these neighbors, listened to their concerns, they bring up valid points about residency issues with Miss Ek,"

Ruth says Ek may legally claim she has an address in St. Cloud, but he says those St. Paul neighbors say she's been living in their neighborhood as recently as a month and a half ago.

"It's kind of funny. If this is all the DFL can dig up on me, well that's great. Because to me it's a non-issue. Home is St. Cloud.

Sue Ek spoke by phone from her parents house in St. Cloud while taking a break from door knocking in the city. Ek says she lives with her parents in St. Cloud, but her office is in a St. Paul house also owned by her parents. And she says, yes, she spends a lot of time at her home office, and sleeps there too, from time to time.

"The house is the location for my office, so it would make sense that they would see me in and out," she says. "Just like people in St. Cloud would see me in and out."

Ek says she's been a life long resident of St. Cloud. But in an MPR interview last April for an unrelated story, Ek said she lived in St. Paul. But now she says she may have misspoken.

"Well, 8 or 9 months ago I was spending probably 60 percent of my time in St. Cloud and 40 percent of my time in St. Paul. I was going back and forth a lot. Yeah, it's possible I said St. Paul. My home has always been St. Cloud."

Ek says she's meets the residency requirement to run for state office in St. Cloud.

State Republican party spokesman Mark Drake says the DFL is scared of Sue Ek's and her message.

"And that's why we're seeing this desperate smear against her today because they are so concerned. I think they view her as a strong candidate, and we do as well."

This is not the first time residency issues have come up in a Minnesota campaign. In 2002 Republicans in Blue Earth County sued to have several candidates taken off the ballot, including Senator and former Democratic majority leader John Hottinger. The suit claimed the candidates used questionable addresses to establish residency. The State Supreme Court ruled in the candidates favor, and they stayed on the ballot. At the time Democrats called the effort a frivolous lawsuit.

Sue Ek's opponent, democrat Larry Haws, says he's trying to stay out of the disagreement. Although Haws is quick to point out that he doesn't think Sue Ek has always lived in St. Cloud.

"So her family is from town and she is from town here," Haws says. "I think she has lived in St. Paul and St. Cloud. I'm mostly interested in getting the word out about Larry Haws and my reputation and my deep roots in the community. She has to talk about Sue and I will talk about Larry."

The special election for the District 12B Minnesota House seat is coming up on December 27th. That same day St. Cloud area voters will also decide who fills the area's state senate seat left open when Dave Kleis was elected St. Cloud mayor.