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Dean Knudson announces run for state Assembly

Hudson Mayor Dean Knudson announces his candidacy for the State Assembly from the patio of the Pier 500 restaurant last Friday.

Hudson Mayor Dean Knudson made it official on Friday.

He ended the speculation that began when State Rep. Kitty Rhoades announced in March that she wouldn't be seeking re-election to the state Assembly in the fall.

Knudson, in events at River Falls and Hudson, confirmed that he would be a candidate for the 30th District seat that Rhoades is leaving after 12 years in office.

The Hudson arch and St. Croix River served as the backdrop for the 11 a.m. gathering on the patio of the Pier 500 restaurant. About 50 or 60 supporters were there to hear the announcement on a perfect spring day.

Knudson was introduced by Cheri Buelow, director of family ministry for Trinity Lutheran Church. She said he is a man of intelligence and integrity.

"We face enormous challenges in Wisconsin today and we'll need to work together to move forward," said Knudson, a Republican.

He began by introducing his wife of 22 years, Joy, and said she was the most important person in the campaign.

"We definitely would not be here today if it were not for my wife," he said.

Knudson noted the economic challenge Wisconsin is facing -- 180,000 lost jobs in the past few years and nearly one in 10 workers unemployed.

"At the same time, the state of Wisconsin has had among the highest taxes in the nation compared to other states," he said. "...This is a concern because we need to remain competitive."

He said he is very optimistic, however, despite the current economic conditions.

"I'm always optimistic. I tend to have an optimistic outlook, and I definitely do at this time," he said. "The state of Wisconsin has hardworking, talented people who are ready and willing to go to work, build new businesses and put those jobs back in place, if we have the policies that will support it."

"The high taxes that burden our families and hinder job growth, we'll work that," he added.

Knudson said the state needs to adopt policies that support "new economy jobs" that are sustainable over the long term and don't depend on federal government stimulus spending that isn't going to continue.

"I look at things through the eyes of a small-business man. That's the way I approach things," he said.

Knudson, 48, and his wife are both veterinarians. They began Hillcrest Animal Hospital when they moved to Hudson in 1989 and sold the successful practice in 2003.

Since then, Knudson has served as a fill-in veterinarian at clinics around the region, and he has real estate investments that he manages.

Knudson also highlighted what he said is his commitment to education in announcing his candidacy.

"We need to prepare our young people to compete in the world of the future, and that means we need to improve education," he said.

"It's not as easy as just spending more money and doing things the same way we have," he continued. "I like to think that I'm an out-of-the-box thinker. We've done it here in the city of Hudson in my time as mayor. We looked at problems that needed improvement, and we've been able to improve services while still protecting the taxpayers.

"And I think we can do that in education. ... We can have better schools and universities while protecting the taxpayers."

Knudson engineered the city's purchase in December of the former Nuclear Management Co. headquarters at First and Vine streets, which now houses the Hudson Police Department and will soon be home to the Hudson Area Joint Library.

He was able to accomplish the move at a fraction of what library supporters initially thought it would cost.

Knudson indicated a willingness to seek bipartisan solutions to problems.

"I think that we need to break down the partisan barriers in Madison that too often leave common sense on the sidelines," he said. "We need to work together to break down those barriers - stay focused on the solutions."

He said that as mayor, and a City Council member prior to that, he has been willing to listen to people who disagree with him and try to find common ground.

During a short question-and-answer session following his announcement, Knudson said he would resign as mayor if elected to the Assembly.

He said he wasn't aware of any other Republicans planning to run for the 30th District seat. A September primary election would be held if another Republican announces.

No Democrat has stepped forward as a candidate yet.

Knudson will have the company of his children in Madison if he is elected to the Legislature.

His daughter Sonya is in her third year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His son Reed, who will graduate from Hudson High School in June, will attend UW-Madison next fall.

You can learn more about Knudson's candidacy on or Facebook.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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