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Rozum announces bid for District 20 state House seat

Tona Rozum, of Mitchell, announced Monday her intention to pursue the state House seat that opened Friday when Rep. Noel Hamiel, R-Mitchell, announced he will not seek reelection.

Rozum, a Republican, former Mitchell City Council member and longtime business owner, said she was approached by friends about running.

"I had it on my bucket list as something I had wanted to do," Rozum said. "It just turned out to be a good time."

Hamiel is finishing his first term as a state representative in District 20, which includes Davison and Aurora counties.

Potential candidates from the two major parties have until March 30 to collect the necessary signatures and submit their nominating petitions to the secretary of state. In District 20, Republicans need 50 signatures and Democrats need 33 to get on the ballot.

Dave Mitchell, chairman of the Davison County Democrats, said the search for a Democrat to oppose Rozum will be a challenge.

"It's been a problem for years," Mitchell said. "I can't remember the last time I had anybody come up and say 'I want to run.' "

Kory Christianson, chairman of the Davison County Republicans, said it doesn't usually take long for his party to find a candidate, although he believes the reasons for running aren't exclusive to Republicans.

"I think there are a lot of civic-minded people who want to help out and feel they can make a difference," Christianson said. "I don't think that it's necessarily a Democratic or Republican thing."

State Sen. Mike Vehle and state Rep. Lance Carson, both Republicans from Mitchell, have already filed their petitions to run for re-election. Christianson doesn't expect further Republican candidates to surface from District 20, but he admitted that anything could happen.

Mitchell said finding candidates for state legislative positions is difficult because of the time requirements of the job, along with the relatively low pay.

"Anybody with a regular job can't take two months off," Mitchell said. "You're asking somebody to basically give up money. It's a sacrifice."

Mitchell said major parties do have the option of using a "stand-in" by submitting signatures for a candidate before the March 30 deadline, and then having that candidate drop out later and be replaced by a second candidate.

Mitchell believes both parties have used the method in the past.

"The point is you do that precisely because then you have an option of another three months to work on (finding a candidate)," Mitchell said.

The method isn't always a popular one for potential temporary candidates, though.

"People are just very reluctant to do that," Mitchell said. "They don't want to put their name in if they don't want to run."

As the days count down for the Democrats, Tona Rozum said she hopes an opponent surfaces.

"That's the process," Rozum said. "It takes all kinds of minds to hash out good solutions."

Should a primary election be necessary to determine either major party's nominees for the legislative positions, that election would be June 8. The general election will be Nov. 2.

All 105 seats in the state Legislature will be up for election this year.