By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, HOLLYWOOD TOWNSHIP, MN After the Nov. 6 elections, Winsted City Council member Tom Ollig wasn’t the only member of his family celebrating a win.
Ollig’s sister, Yvonne Selcer, was elected to the Minnesota House District 48A seat; and his brother-in-law, John Hoffman, was elected to the State Senate in District 36.
“It’s kind of neat how it all worked out; we’re all graduates of Holy Trinity, too,” said Ollig, class of 1970.
Selcer, class of 1971, is 15 months younger than Ollig.
“I never let him forget it,” she laughed.
Hoffman, class of 1983, was just starting kindergarten when the two of them were in high school.
“Going to Holy Trinity was a great experience,” said Hoffman, a Hollywood Township native who had transferred from school in Watertown after his sophomore year.
Hoffman met Ollig’s youngest sister, Yvette, at Holy Trinity, but they didn’t get married until after college. Today, the couple has a 15-year-old daughter named Hope.
“We have been involved in public policy as a family since Hope was born,” Hoffman said.
Student council at HT
For Ollig, the desire to run for office developed long before he met his wife, LuAnn.
“I actually was student council president my senior year in high school,” Ollig said. “Probably that’s when it started.”
During his time in office, Ollig helped start SnoFest, which is still celebrated each winter at Holy Trinity. A few other members of the student council at that time included Steve Laxen, who now works at Littfin Lumber; Carol Norman, who works at Flagship Bank; and Jan Eggert, the wife of local lawyer Fran Eggert.
“A lot of us have continued to stay,” Ollig said.
Although Selcer moved to Minnetonka and Hoffman lives in Champlin, the family has never stopped trying to improve the lives of those around them.
“My dad [John, aka “Hutch”] taught me early on to be part of the solution be part of the community,” said Hoffman, adding that his mother, Diane, was the first female to run for school board in Watertown.
Ollig and Selcer, whose parents, John and Therese, raised six children, had a similar philosophy.
“We were always encouraged to give back to the community, and Tom and I chose this way,” Selcer said, but added that she doesn’t remember a specific “you should run for office” conversation.
“In our family, our parents volunteered in different organizations it’s just the way we were brought up,” Ollig said.
Why they serve
Ollig is looking forward to continued service on the Winsted City Council.
“I’m finishing my 20th year not consecutively and now I have the privilege of serving four more,” he said.
When asked what keeps him running for office, Ollig answered simply: “I like it.”
“I really do enjoy listening to both sides and making decisions,” he added. “Sometimes the decisions aren’t appreciated by some individuals, but hopefully we’re at least respected for making the decisions we do.”
Selcer’s background in public service grew out of her involvement in both education and business. Throughout her career, she served as a special education/elementary teacher, and also held upper level management positions in the private sector.
Her first time running for office was with the Hopkins School Board, and she served two terms, from 2004 to 2011.
“After I retired from the school board, I was looking for volunteer opportunities with children, or maybe a job,” Selcer said.
However, a number of people asked her to run for state representative in District 48A, so she decided to give it a try.
“I love our state and our communities, and I love public service,” Selcer said.
Education is also a passion for Hoffman, who was elected to the Anoka-Hennepin School Board in 2005.
“For me, it was a natural transition to extend my public service to the state level,” Hoffman said.
Ollig said he’s not surprised both his sister and brother-in-law were elected.
“When they decided to run, they went in with both feet,” he said. “They’re both very passionate people.”
Selcer admitted that running for state representative was much more intense than running for school board.
“I door-knocked, oftentimes six hours a day,” Selcer said. “It was a very tight race, and my opponent also worked very hard.”
Hoffman also did a lot of door-knocking, and appreciated the conversations he had with people in his district.
People would tell me they don’t care if I’m Republican, Democrat, Green Party or Independent just get something done,” Hoffman recalled.
In Winsted, Ollig said it was great to see six candidates running for city council.
“It was humbling to be re-elected,” he said.
“Winsted is very, very lucky to have [Ollig],” Selcer added.
Although Selcer and Hoffman both ran as DFL candidates, and Ollig tends to lean Republican, the three of them don’t let differing opinions pull them apart.
“We’re all doing what we think is best,” Ollig said. “I would hope that we would set an example for people to follow their passions and beliefs not necessarily by running for public office, but by getting involved in the community in some way.”