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Longtime Republican legislator K.J. McDonald has died in Watertown

He served seven terms in the state House and was Watertown mayor.

K.J. McDonald, who served seven terms in the state House and was Watertown mayor, has died at age 81.

He had been undergoing treatment for metatastic melanoma after a brain tumor was discovered last year.

The Legislature’s website says he was in insurance sales and a professional photographer when first elected. He served from 1977 to 1991. McDonald’s son, Joe, is currently a GOP state House member from Delano.

K.J. McDonald sought the Republican endorsement for Congress in 1990.

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He served as mayor of Watertown in 1976 before going to the Legislature, and then served on the city council after his stints in St. Paul. He was appointed mayor in 2005, says the Waconia Patriot, and was then elected mayor in 2006, 2008 and 2010. He wasn’t running for re-election this year because of his health issues.

Acting Mayor Rick Mann issued this statement today on behalf of the city:

Last night, the City of Watertown lost one of its great treasures, Mayor KJ McDonald.  Born just outside of town in 1929, Mayor McDonald has been an irreplaceable lifelong advocate for our community.  KJ McDonald has gone by many titles over the years — husband, veteran, photographer, state representative, Toastmasters President, Legion Commander, local actor, father, parishioner, council member, Lions member, grandfather, friend, Boy Scoutmaster, but perhaps none as fitting as Mayor.

Mayor McDonald held a deep rooted belief that good governance comes from good neighbors and he led Watertown with that vision as his guidepost for decision making.  Consistently reminding Council and staff that, “the best decisions are made closest to the people,” Mayor McDonald lived out what it means to be a good public servant putting community ahead of personal advancement. 

Today, we see Mayor McDonald’s belief woven into the community tapestry that makes Watertown a great place to call home.  Our downtown is thriving, our schools are successful, and our community groups are active.  The next time you attend a successful community fundraiser, walk through a park in Watertown, or notice our community’s charm – you will see KJ’s living legacy. 

The City of Watertown would like to thank the Mayor’s family for so graciously sharing him with us throughout the years our condolences are with you.