District 52B candidates focus on cost-of-living issues

Regina Barr

Mary T'Kach

House District 52B is an open race for the first time in several election cycles.

DFL Rep. Joe Atkins announced last January that he would not run for an eighth term and instead would seek a seat on the Dakota County Board of Commissioners.

Vying for the open District 52B seat are Republican Gina Barr and DFLer Mary T’Kach.

District 52B includes Inver Grove Heights, Sunfish Lake, Mendota Heights and a portion of Eagan.

The Review asked the two candidates what skills and experiences they think they’d bring to the Legislature, what they think are the top challenges facing the district, and what issue or project they’d prioritize if elected. They answered via email. 


Regina Barr, who lives in Inver Grove Heights with her husband Kevin, is the GOP-endorsed candidate. She is a business owner and received her MBA in business with a marketing concentration from Adelphi University and her master’s in human development from St. Mary’s University.

Barr said she was raised by a single working mother of four kids, and went to work at age 14 to help her family and pay for college. For the past 13 years she has operated her own business, Red Ladder, Inc., a corporate consulting and executive coaching firm, and has served as a leader in both for-profit and non-profit efforts to benefit the community.

“I understand the challenges facing hardworking men and women in our district. I’m a problem solver who will work collaboratively in the Legislature,” Barr said.

Barr said that as she campaigns, she has met many residents and business owners in the community who are “concerned with the direction the state has taken.” She said salaries are stagnating while taxes, health care costs and childcare costs have risen. In addition, there is a shortage of workers in several industries and the state has an aging population. Barr said good policies need to be developed so that these “increased burdens don’t hurt hardworking families down the line.”

Barr said that as an independent leader, she will support “commonsense solutions” that create good paying jobs for middle class families, reduce healthcare costs and prepare children for the future.

“I want to make Minnesota not only a great place to live and do business, but a great place to find a good paying job,” Barr said.


Mary T’Kach, 58, resides in Inver Grove Heights. She is an energy and sustainability coordinator with Ramsey County and has the DFL endorsement. She earned her bachelor’s degree in park and recreation administration from Milton College.

T’Kach said she has strong business skills, local and national bipartisan public policy experience, and a history of public service.

She said that for 30 years, she has worked successfully on projects and problem solving in the for-profit, non-profit and government sectors, which have given her an appreciation for the passionate, yet diverse perspectives people bring to issues.

“I am a consensus builder and creative thinker who listens to people, collaborates and finds common sense solutions built on facts, transparency and compromise,” T’Kach said. 

She said one of the biggest challenges facing legislators is restoring people’s faith in government. T’Kach said the state needs to continue to work on bipartisan efforts to reduce health care costs, support public schools, and improve aging transportation systems and communication infrastructure. 

“We are a stronger region when we work together and balance the needs of our urban, suburban and rural communities,” T’Kach said.

If elected, T’Kach said she will work for bipartisan clean water and energy policies that “help create thousands of living wage jobs, so that Minnesota is a leader as the country transitions to a clean energy economy.”

She said another priority is making sure the state provides affordable, quality public education that prepares students for jobs in the future. 


Election Day is Nov. 8. To find your polling place visit, http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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