New legislator Q&A with Sen. John Hoffman

Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, points to the vastness of the Minnesota Senate chamber as he waits to be part of his swearing in ceremony on Tuesday. (ECM Publishers staff photo by Howard Lestrud)
Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, points to the vastness of the Minnesota Senate chamber as he waits to be part of his swearing in ceremony on Tuesday. (ECM Publishers staff photo by Howard Lestrud)

State Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, was elected in November to replace Sen. Benjamin Kruse, R-Brooklyn Park. Hoffman, former vice chair of the Anoka-Hennepin School Board, serves as vice chair of the Environment and Energy Committee. He also serves on the E-12 Finance Committee, as well as the Health, Human Services and Housing committee.

Hoffman represents Senate District 36, which includes Brooklyn Park north of 85th Avenue, Champlin and part of Coon Rapids. Hewas sworn in Jan. 8 and recently responded to questions regarding his first days in office.

Q. How does being a legislator differ from your position on the Anoka-Hennepin School Board?

A. I am fortunate to continue my education interests by serving on the E-12 Finance Committee. Through this committee I can keep impacting our school district and advocating for our students and teachers. The primary difference is that I am involved with many other diverse issues affecting Minnesotans.

Q. What has been most surprising about your tenure as a legislator thus far?

A. A surprise, but an encouraging surprise, is how quickly the senate got down to serious business. In every committee I serve on, we are already getting to the nuts and bolts of major programs and legislation that will immediately impact our state. I am very happy about this. I am here to get good work done on a responsible timeline.

Q. What is the most difficult aspect of your job as a legislator? 

A. Even in these early days of session, my schedule is fully packed with meetings, briefings and hearings. Thoughtful consideration of the issues is important to me and critical for good governance. Keeping such a tight schedule is a challenge, and that’s why I keep it a top priority in my office.

Q. What is the easiest aspect of your job as a legislator?

A. Working with the constituents of Brooklyn Park, Champlin and Coon Rapids, as well as with my senate colleagues from both parties, is easy. I enjoy the people and understand that listening is essential to serving their interests. My colleagues and the senate staff are committed to their public service, making this a great place to successfully serve my constituents.

Q. Overall, is serving in the legislature about what you expected, or has it been an eye-opener?

A. It is an honor to work for the people of my district and Minnesota. Every day I walk into the Capitol is an eye-opener. It’s a great reminder of our state’s strong history and the importance of the work we do each day. After serving on the school board for eight years, it’s tough to find something that’s an eye opener, but this might just be the place.

Q. What do you enjoy most and least about committee hearings?

A. Committee hearings are a great source of information and a chance for us to really get down to the business of lawmaking. The briefings by state agencies are essential to understanding the current state of our government. Each day I learn more and more about how to best serve Minnesotans, and I really enjoy that.

To be honest, I wish there was more time for hearings since so much of the testimony is abbreviated. So that is what I enjoy the least.

Q. Have you had much contact from your constituents thus far into the session?

A. Yes, the people of Senate District 36 are very engaged. The last couple of sessions have been difficult and folks rightfully expect this session to be very productive. To make sure I stay involved with constituents, I am in the process of developing a series of advisory committees. I am also working up a town hall meeting schedule for the district.

Contact Sen. Hoffman at [email protected]