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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published January 04 2011

Prettner Solon promises to watch greater issues

ST. PAUL – Yvonne Prettner Solon is walking into the lieutenant governor’s office as a greater Minnesota advocate.

The Duluth resident, who gave up a state senator gig to be Mark Dayton’s running mate, told about 600 people at St. Paul’s Landmark Center that she knew “there were no easy solutions to the challenges we are facing.”

But she said that the Dayton-Prettner Solon election is “a new page,” presenting an opportunity to work together, as Dayton often encouraged in his 14-minute speech after the pair took office Monday.

“We extend a hand to all of you across the aisle, across the river, across the state,” Prettner Solon said.

After saying she spent a dozen years on the Duluth City Council, Prettner Solon admitted to the crowd, and a statewide radio and Internet audience: “I am passionate about Duluth.”

But, she quickly added, it is not just Duluth. “A decade ago I brought my passion for Duluth and all of greater Minnesota here to the state Capitol.”

It was one of the few mentions of specific areas of the state during the hour-long inaugural ceremony. Dayton used Prettner Solon in areas outside of the Twin Cities during the campaign, especially in her own northeast.

President Doug Peterson of the National Farmers’ Union Minnesota chapter was thinking about rural Minnesota during Dayton’s speech.

“I heard there are going to be painful decisions going to be made,” Peterson said.

To Peterson, that means Dayton will look for more funds for education, health and transportation programs, all vital to rural Minnesota.

Officials again

Attorney General Lori Swanson, State Auditor Rebecca Otto and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie took their oaths of office for second four-year terms Monday.

All are Democrats.

Swanson and outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty often are on different sides of issues, but she praised the probable Republican presidential candidate for his service to Minnesota.

“No matter what path you choose, I thank you for your service to our state,” Swanson told Pawlenty, who sat in the second row and played no part in Mark Dayton’s inaugural.

Earlier, Pawlenty received a standing ovation from the Democrat-heavy crowd.

In the spirit

An announcement before the swearing-in ceremony illustrated Dayton’s efforts to work with legislative Republicans. He delayed until Wednesday signing a document to enroll Minnesota in a new federal Medicaid health program for the poor because Republicans oppose the action.

Dayton Chief of Staff Tina Smith said the change came because of a personal request by House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, so it does not happen on the day the GOP takes over legislative control.

“Gov. Dayton is proud to make this order one of his first actions in office, providing health care to tens of thousands of Minnesotans and retaining health care jobs in our state,” Smith said.

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com