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Two Edina residents will face off Tuesday in a special election to decide who finishes the term in a now-vacant District 6 seat on the Hennepin County Board.

State Rep. Heather Edelson faces businesswoman Marisa Simonetti in the race to replace Chris LaTondresse, who resigned last summer to lead a St. Paul affordable housing nonprofit. Edelson and Simonetti were the top two candidates after an April 30 special primary narrowed the field of six who filed for the seat.

It's a nonpartisan contest, but Edelson, a DFLer, and Simonetti, a Republican, differ ideologically.

The Hennepin County Board has seven commissioners who oversee a budget of nearly $2.7 billion. The county is the second-largest government in Minnesota, after the state bureaucracy, with nearly 10,000 employees.

Commissioners approve budgets for the county attorney and county sheriff as well as HCMC and more than a dozen health clinics. The board also oversees human services programs, property tax collections, solid waste disposal and 41 library branches.

Edelson, in her third term at the Legislature, said she had already decided not to run for a fourth term at the Capitol when the District 6 seat became vacant. Edelson joined the District 6 race when the special election was pushed to mid-May and wouldn't interfere with her final legislative session.

Edelson says she's running for the County Board because the seat would give her an opportunity not just to craft public policy but to work on how it is implemented.

"I like to work on issues; I like policy. I'm a worker bee," Edelson said.

She says the County Board would give her a more hands-on approach to government that can impact people's lives: "That is something you get to do more of at the county level."

Edelson said her time on the House Human Services Policy Committee gives her unique insight into a big portion of the county's operations that focuses on providing social services. She's worked as a therapist and says mental health services would be one of her priorities as a commissioner.

Simonetti, who has never held public office, said she entered the race because she is concerned about rising crime and residents' increased tax burden.

She said the County Board could benefit from a more frugal voice.

"People are frustrated on the financial aspect," said Simonetti, who noted that Hennepin County property taxes rose 6.5% this year, the biggest increase in more than a decade. "I think people feel like they are getting less value and paying more."

Simonetti also said the board should do more to support law enforcement and address rising crime. She has been critical of the money Hennepin County has spent on the Southwest light-rail project.

Whoever wins the May 14 election won't have much of a break from campaigning, if she wants to hold on to the seat after 2024. The District 6 seat is one of three on the County Board up for election in November.

Both Edelson and Simonetti have signaled they will run again for the seat in November. That could also mean running in a summer primary, given the previous interest in the seat.

District 6 has 66 precincts and includes the communities of Edina, Hopkins, Mound, Minnetonka, Wayzata, Long Lake and Shorewood.