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Meet Carla



Carla, is the namesake of her grandfather, Carl who immigrated to America to pursue his American Dream. She is  the daughter of two public school educators and  has an extensive background in education, public service and business.

Carla earned an elementary and special education degree from Drake University and a Masters of Education from the University of Minnesota. Carla taught in small rural schools and most recently in the Rochester public schools. She has taught students in grades 1-9 as a special education teacher, a title one teacher, resource room teacher and as a middle school reading  teacher.  Carla, also a reading specialist, knows that reading well by third grade is essential to academic success, closing achievement gaps and keeping the American Dream open for all.

Carla is a small business owner and earned national recognition as a MDRT member for several years. Carla and Terry have three grown sons, two wonderful daughters in law, and two precious grandchildren.

Terry and Carla are members of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, Veterans groups and are members of Autumn Ridge Church.

On the Issues

Reducing Taxes and Inflation

Carla brought people together to create historic tax-relief to help Minnesotans combat crushing inflation including eliminating the tax on social security benefits, cutting income tax rates, property tax relief and tax credits to help families afford childcare and education expenses.

family with Carla
law enforcement officers and Carla

Supporting Safe Communities / Fighting Crime

Carla championed support for more good police officers and tougher sentences for repeat violent offenders. She authored successful Safe School Aid.

Working to improve Healthcare access, quality, and affordability

Carla is a watchdog for patient centered high quality healthcare. Carla fought to protect consumers against surprise billing to help hold down premiums. She championed the landmark mental health bill to make mental healthcare more accessible. She is committed to funding wage increases for direct support professionals in group homes and long-term care facilities.

man with cane and Carla

Supporting Excellence in Education

Carla delivered significant school funding with reforms and supports to help kids read and catch up from learning loss. She knows parents are the first and most influential teachers and has long been an advocate for parental involvement in education.

Protecting Our Environment

Carla is committed to protecting our environment and received the Environment Legislator of Distinction Award by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities for her focus on scientific driven environmental policy.

farmer talking to Carla

Funding Transportation

Carla supported essential funding for roads and bridges including new funding for township roads. She helped pass the expansion of Highway 14 and is dedicated to securing a full and safe intersection at its County 44 junction.


Republican and Democrat governors alike have appointed Carla to key state boards that demand bipartisan cooperation. Carla has been appointed to:

  • Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs.
  • Office on the Economic Status of Women Advisory Committee
  • Minnesota Capitol Area Architectural Planning Board
  • Minnesota Higher Education Finance Authority Board
  • Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation
  • Governor’s Workforce Development Council;
  • Serve Minnesota


Carla remains involved in her community and is serving or has served in a number of roles, including:

  • Rotary member
  • PEO member
  • Daughter of the American Revolution member
  • Trustee on the Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust 
  • Board of Directors for the SPARKS Children’s Museum
  • Rochester Orchestra and Chorale Member
  • Served as President of Friends of Mayowood
  • Rochester Network For Reentry Board of Directors
  • Rochester Music Guild Board of Directors
  • Junior Achievement Board of Directors. 
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Carla’s Awards & Endorsements During her time in elected office, Carla has received many awards and endorsements, including:

MN Police

MN Police & Peace Officers Association

MN Professional Firefighters Association

MN Professional Firefighters Association

Economic Development Legislator of Distinction

Economic Development Legislator of Distinction

Legislator of the Year

Legislator of the Year

Public Service Award

Public Service Award

Minnesota Charter School Champion Award

Minnesota Charter School Champion Award

Distinguished Advocacy Award

Distinguished Advocacy Award

MN Pipe Trades Association

MN Pipe Trades Association

Legislator of the Year Award

Legislator of the Year Award


Farm & Rural Legislator Award

Legislative Champion Award

Legislative Champion Award

School Social Work Legislator of the Year

School Social Work Legislator of the Year

farm bureau
North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters

North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters

Local Control Legislator of the Year

Local Control Legislator of the Year

Champion of Racial Justice

Champion of Racial Justice

Friend of Public Education Award

Friend of Public Education Award

Distinguished Legislator Award

Distinguished Legislator Award

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International Union of Operating Engineers

International Union of Operating Engineers

Mahu_Minnesota logo_grey
Guardian of Small Business Award

Guardian of Small Business Award

Friend of Retail Award

Friend of Retail Award

Legislator of Distinction

Legislator of Distinction

Environment Legislator of Distinction

Environment Legislator of Distinction

You can endorse Carla Nelson, too!

On November 8th, we have the opportunity to send Carla back to Saint Paul to continue working for our district. Show your support for Carla by voting on November 8th in-person, voting in-person prior to the election, or voting absentee. Learn more by clicking the link below.

Representing our Communities Our new district 24 includes all of Dodge County, parts of the city of Rochester, and parts of Olmsted County, including Byron, Stewartville, all of Kalmar, Salem, Rochester, Rock Dell, and High Forest Townships, and parts of Cascade and Marion Townships

Carla has a long record of working across the aisle, building coalitions and finding solutions. Her accomplishments are making SE Minnesota communities a better place to live, work and play. Here are just a few of them:

Collegiate Recovery

Established collegiate recovery program at University of Minnesota – Rochester


COVID funding for the Mayo and University of MN partnership to ramp up testing, treatment and vaccines

Childcare Funding

Childcare Grants for providers in rural Minnesota

Highway 14 Expansion

Highway 14 expansion from Rochester to Owatonna

Cradle to Career

Rochester Cradle to Career – equitable, results-based investments in children and their families

Rochester PTECH

A high school pipeline to employment in collaboration with Rochester Public Schools, IBM, Mayo Clinic, and RCTC

Chester Woods Trail

Chester Woods State Trails Appropriation

The Reading Center

Worked to secure funding for The Reading Center – Dyslexia Institute of Minnesota

Bridges to Healthcare

Funding to provide career education and job skills training in high-demand healthcare fields

RCTC Expansion

Passed funding to replace Memorial & Plaza Halls at Rochester Community and Technical College

RCTC Renovation

Rochester Community and Technical College Workforce Center Renovation

CEDA Study

Community Economic Development study to help SE Minnesota communities grow

Children's Museum

Secured funding for the Minnesota Children’s Museum in Rochester

Airport Improvements

Border and Customs improvements to the Rochester International Airport


Recovery Funding

Expanded Substance Use Recovery Funding for MN Adult & Teen Challenge in Rochester.

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