MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former State Rep. Sandra Peterson, who helped guide the merger of Minnesota’s two largest teachers’ unions, has died. She was 79.

A statement from Education Minnesota says Peterson died at a Minneapolis hospital Saturday after a four-year battle with ovarian cancer.

Peterson was president of the Minnesota Federation of Teachers when it merged with the Minnesota Education Association in 1998, and she became co-president of Education Minnesota. She served until 2004, when she won the first of four terms in the Minnesota House, representing northwest Twin Cities suburbs.

Gov. Mark Dayton called Peterson “a dedicated educator and legislator” who cared deeply about better educational opportunities for all children.

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin says Peterson’s life in public service was dedicated to creating a better future for students across Minnesota.

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