It’s been a month since the Nov. 8 general election and there are still remnants that remind us which candidate we did or did not vote for.
Some weathered political yard signs are beginning to rip and topple over.
As you drive west on County Road 10 and enter Huntley, there’s a small orange, blue and white sign on the right side of the road.
It’s for a candidate who didn’t even get a single vote on election day —— his name wasn’t on the ballot.
The words on the sign read, “We need Henry Kalis as our state representative.”
“My son comes up from Florida to help farmers and stays at the house,” says Diana Robertson. “He saw it in the garage and I guess to be mischievous decided to put it up.”
Kalis was first elected in 1974 and served in the Legislature for 28 years, representing portions of Faribault, Blue Earth, Martin, Freeborn and Waseca counties.
For the past two years, Violet Kalis says her husband has been battling Alzheimer’s and now resides at Prairie Senior Cottage Care Center in Albert Lea.
Known as a strong voice for farmers, agricultural and transportation issues, Henry has difficulty speaking and remembering.
“It would make Henry feel good just knowing someone may think of him when they see the sign,” says Violet. “Some people still appreciate all the work he did while he was there.”
Kalis was serving as a Faribault County commissioner when he was encouraged to run for the state Legislature.
John Huisman, who was chairman of the Faribault County Democrat Party at the time, says Kalis was recruited because he was young and had many good ideas.
“A man of such modesty and so dedicated to serving the citizens, to see him now really pulls on your heart,” says Huisman.
Kalis earned the distinction of being the first legislative candidate to file for office each year that he ran.
His reason for doing this was, simply: “I enjoy this job and I think when you like something you should show people you like it.”
Violet says Henry often arrived at the Secretary of State’s Office in St. Paul early the morning of or even later in the day before the opening date for filing.
“It got to be an overnight thing,” says Violet. “I didn’t sleep there with him, but I’d bring him food.”
On Nov. 28, the Kalises celebrated 57 years of marriage.
Violet spent the afternoon that day talking with Henry about their wedding day and their honeymoon to Colorado.
“He listened and I had him laughing. So part of me thinks he took in what I was telling him,” she says.
On March 2, Henry will turn 80 years old and four days later Violet will be 77.
Henry ranks among the longest-serving legislators from southern Minnesota in the state’s history.
He may not remember his time as a public servant, but there are many who will never forget.