Minnesota State Senator David Tomassoni passed away after battle with ALS

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CHISHOLM, Minn. – A longtime member of the Minnesota Legislature who represented the Iron Range for nearly 30 years has died.

The Facebook page of State Senator David Tomassoni says he passed away Thursday night, August 11, 2022.  He was 69.

The Chisholm native, who played professional hockey in Italy and was part of the country’s hockey team at the 1984 Winter Olympics, was first elected to the State House in 1992, and served there until he was elected to the State Senate in 2000.  There he stayed as a long-time member of the DFL caucus.

In 2020 he and fellow Northland State Senator Tom Bakk left this caucus and became independents.  For Tomassoni, he did this to earn better committee appointments to better serve his constituents in St Louis and Itasca counties.

It was in June of 2020 that Tomassoni was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gering’s Disease.  He did not announce it publicly until July of 2021.  While his physical condition deteriorated, Tomassoni continued to serve in the Legislature into the most recent session.  That included helping to pass a bill that provided $25 million in state funding towards research grants in finding a cure for the disease, as well as to groups that help care for people with ALS.

Lawmakers from across the Northland and state have provided their condolences for Tomassoni’s passing.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz:  “Gwen and I are heartbroken to hear of Senator David Tomassoni’s death. We are sending love and strength to his family and so many friends at the Capitol and across the state.  David was a champion for his constituents, the Iron Range, and all of Minnesota. I am honored to have known him and to have worked together to pass millions of dollars in funding for ALS research and caregiver support last session. His legacy will continue to help people in Minnesota for generations.”

Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan: “Senator David Tomassoni was a tireless advocate for his constituents and the Iron Range and a friend to so many across the state.  When he was diagnosed with ALS, he turned heartbreak into action and became a fierce champion in his final months for people and families like his. I am saddened by his passing, and his family and loved ones will remain in our thoughts and prayers.”

State Senator Tom Bakk: “Today I mourn the passing of my dear friend David Tomassoni. A true champion for the Iron Range and hard-working men and women across the state. The legacy he leaves is enormous, and his passion for public service benefited countless lives. His selflessness in advocating for ALS research could not save his life but may save the lives of millions who follow in his footsteps. His kindness to me, my wife Laura, and the good times we shared will live with me for the rest of my life. I send my condolences to his family during this difficult time. We lost a giant.”

State Representative Dave Lislegard:  “We lost a champion, and I lost my dear friend and mentor. David taught me so much about the value of relationships, and how to work with people to get things done at the Capitol. Despite the adversity and the outlook he faced over the last year, he remained there for the people of the Iron Range every minute of every day. My heart goes out to his entire family – who were along David’s side for his journey as he battled ALS – for their heartbreaking loss.  Thank you, David, for being you, and for giving us so much.”

State Representative Julie Sandstede: “My heart is broken today. To the very end, David was a fighter, an advocate, and a champion for the Iron Range, as well as working people, students, and families across the entire state. Facing an unthinkably difficult situation personally, he persevered to deliver a historic investment in ALS, which has the potential to save lives in the future. Having the opportunity to work closely with him was a joy and an honor. I will miss him dearly, and I share my deepest sympathies with his family.”

State Senator Justin Eichorn & State Representative Spencer Igo: “We send our condolences to the Tomassoni family during this extremely difficult time. David Tomassoni’s spirit and energy were a blessing to everyone who knew him. The legacy he leaves as a steadfast supporter of Minnesota mining, a champion for ALS research, and a fearless advocate for the Iron Range will endure. We are saddened to lose our friend and will continue to carry on fighting for our beloved Iron Range.”

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin: “My heart goes out to Senator David Tomassoni’s friends, family, and loved ones. Senator Tomassoni was an institution in the Minnesota Senate, a champion for the Iron Range, and a strong advocate for our schools. While we did not always agree on the issues, I never doubted that Senator Tomassoni was doing what he thought was best for the people of Minnesota. Senator Tomassoni’s boundless courage and wisdom will be missed.”

Minnesota GOP Chairman David Hann: “My heart is heavy at the passing of my friend and colleague Senator David Tomassoni. We served together in the State Senate for years and though we were often on different sides of issues, he was always gracious and represented his constituents with passion and skill. I remember him as a man with a great sense of humor, rare in the political atmosphere of the State Senate, and a political opponent who never let policy arguments detract from his natural kindness and generosity of spirit.  Toward the end of his career, David led the charge to bolster funding and caregiving for those suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the horrific disease which eventually took him from us far too soon. David’s loss will be felt across the state in many ways and his legacy of service and leadership will leave a lasting impact for years to come.” 

St. Louis County Board Chair Paul McDonald: “The people of the Iron Range, St. Louis County and our entire state has lost a leader.  Senator David Tomassoni served this region with passion, enthusiasm and kindness.  He combined friendliness with creative thinking to find compromise and real solutions.  Dave was a champion for the people of his district and all working families.  He fought for jobs and improving the quality of life on his beloved Iron Range.  We extend our sincerest condolences to his family.  We are among the many friends who are grieving.  ALS took him from us far too soon, but his legacy will live on.  This is something that gives us both comfort and inspiration.”

 

Tomassoni is survived by his wife Charlotte, two sons, Danny and Dante, and a daughter, Chauntell.

With the current legislative session over, there is no need for a special election to replace Tomassoni.  He had announced that he would retire after this session, with a new State Senator to be elected in November.

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