Former Austin mayor kicks off campaign for Minnesota House of Representatives

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(ABC 6 NEWS) – Former Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm kicked off his campaign for the Minnesota House of Representatives Sunday. Stiehm spent three years in the marine corps, 30 years in law enforcement and 14 years as mayor. He planned to retire but says he wants to help unify Minnesota on divisive issues like public safety and healthcare.

Governor Tim Walz spoke at the kickoff event — endorsing Stiehm.

"When you see someone who’s lived their life as a servant to the community as Tom has, it’s inspiring," Walz said.

"We’re letting that small area of politics divide us when we should be letting all the other areas unite us. And we have to remember we’re Americans first, we’re Austinites first, we’re citizens first," Stiehm said.

He’s coming out of retirement to run on the DFL ticket for seat 27b, currently held by Patricia Mueller. He wants to use his experience in law enforcement to support peace officers, but also alter the profession to include more social work.

Stiehm also said he wants to advocate for all Austin residents, including the city’s diverse immigrant community.