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Worthington's Avenel-Navara running for Minn. House seat (with video)

WORTHINGTON -- This time around, Cheryl Avenel-Navara said things will be different.

For the second time, Avenel-Navara, DFL-Worthington, is running for the Minnesota House District 22B seat, a position currently occupied by Mountain Lake Republican Rod Hamilton.

"I came so close," Avenel-Navara said of last year's election. "I really wanted to win. I really, really wanted to win. I was disappointed that I didn't. But it wasn't a problem to accept the fact that I lost.

"It took me a while to go and look at the vote totals and to see where I 'won' and where I really 'lost,'" she continued. "I could see where I put an effort into knocking on a lot of doors, I did really well comparatively. I won in some places where I knocked on doors. I came real close in other places."

Avenel-Navara, a retired Minnesota West Community and Technical College faculty member, received nearly 40 percent of the vote in the 2012 election.

"When I looked at it, if I had run two years ago and gotten 7,000 votes, I would have won," she said. "There was a big turnout -- it was a presidential election. I'm glad for the big turnout, I'm also glad I got almost 7,000 votes.

People keep saying, 'You'll get 'em next time. Forty percent of the vote, that's really good for a first-timer.' Honestly, four days in Florida after the election with no phone, no computer, no anything, just to sit and read and reflect did wonders for me. I was ready to get involved again."

Hamilton won his fifth two-year term with 10,165 votes. Avenel-Navara had 6,745.

This time around, Avenel-Navara sees herself as having more experience.

"I learned that I get rattled easily," she said. "I have to be better about that. I learned how expensive campaigns are. When they told me I could spend $20,000 or $30,000, whatever it was, as a first-time candidate, I said, 'Yeah right, I'm not spending that kind of money.'

"I learned a lot about the issues," she added. "I learned about energy. I learned about insurance, more than I knew before. I learned I have to be better to not looking for the right answer in my notes. I have the right answer -- I have my answer -- I have to stop scrambling for it. I have to have more confidence in myself. I always thought I had confidence until I ran."

She believes serving the people of the district -- and the state -- is a way to give back to those who have helped her along the way.

"I've thought about my life; I have been very fortunate," Avenel-Navara said. "Not wealthy, lower-middle class, had to work, got scholarships to go to college, had loans, was able to pay them back, got help paying them back, struggled as a single parent, but I always had help -- whether it was from family or friends or the government.

"It's a way to give back. I believe it paying it forward -- that's why I work with hospice, but I also believe in paying it back, which is why I do other things."

She announced her intention to run publicly last week at the District 22 DFL annual meeting in Fulda.

"I've gotten an earlier start," she said. "I've sent out my first fundraising letter. Hopefully, we'll have some money going into the campaign that we can do things.

"I will be able to go out earlier and knock on doors because I won't have to do all the preliminary things that one needs to do, like learning about the issues and developing a position and getting money. Just having an earlier start makes things different."

The election will be Nov. 4, 2014.

"I don't understand why a city the size of Worthington, a county the size of Nobles -- bigger than any place else in southwest Minnesota -- doesn't have an elected representative," she said. "To me, it's self-serving to have someone up there to represent you, whether you are a Republican or Democrat."

Avenel-Navara said she is a quick learner and would make a good state representative because she cares about people.

"I think I would be good at it, and I think that's because I care about people," she said. "While door-knocking is not one of the things most people enjoy because you're going up saying, 'Please don't yell at me,' after two or three knocks and you talk to people, they tell you remarkable things. I care about what they are telling me. I care when they say, 'Come in and sit down and listen to my story about this particular issue.'"

With almost a year and a half before the election, Avenel-Navara is looking forward to visiting towns and participating in celebrations throughout the year. She also knows winning an election is a tough task, but,she is confident she can win.

"I think I can," Avenel-Navara said. "But I thought I could last time, too. I really do think I can win. If I didn't think I could win, I wouldn't do it. I went into it last year the same way. I thought I could win. I think I did better than people expected me to. I just have to win over a few more folks."

Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen can be reached at 376-7323.