Editor’s note: Incumbent Democrat Dave Lislegard is running against Republican Matt Norri for District 7B State Representative. Both candidates were offered an opportunity to write a column for this issue of MINE.
Mining on the Iron Range is our region’s past, present, AND future — a future with hundreds of generational jobs that can supply our nation with the minerals needed to support advances in technology, fight against climate change and more.
Iron Rangers know this. We helped win wars and constructed the iconic cities of the United States. Today, the steel made from our resources strengthens the country’s infrastructure and helps assemble the cars and trucks we drive. Tomorrow, we want the precious metals under our feet to power renewable resources and make the U.S. less dependent on other countries.
The late David Tomassoni, along with the retirement of Tom Bakk, are leaving our region with a gap in the institutional knowledge and influence in the Minnesota Legislature and across the state. We can’t replace that. But we also can’t afford to lose more leadership as the Iron Range tries to build toward its new future.
I’m a fourth-generation Iron Ranger, a former Steelworker who was laid off during the LTV closure in 2001, a former Aurora city councilor for 14 years before being elected mayor in 2017, a past president of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS) and a board member of the Laurentian Chamber of Commerce and Jobs for Minnesotans. For the past four years, I’ve served in the Minnesota House, working closely with my dear friends and colleagues Sen. Tomassoni and Sen. Bakk.
I’ve been there and have remained at the front of the fight for jobs and healthy communities in our region every step of the way as a community organizer, local elected official and a state representative. Our fight is far from over, too, as we continue to face the challenges put before us.
Front and center of those challenges is the impending closure of Hibbing Taconite in the next three years due to lack of ore. I have called on the Walz Administration to pull iron ore leases from the failed Mesabi Metallics in Nashwauk and have long been a supporter of allowing those mineral resources to be mined by Hibbing Taconite. I’ve seen firsthand the impact losing a mine can have on a city and its people after the LTV closure, and we must do what we can to prevent that from happening again.
A recent decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals to uphold the Walz Administration’s decision to pull the leases puts us a step closer to avoiding that outcome. As I did as a local elected official during the Dayton Administration, I will continue to press the Walz Administration to make sure those leases are granted to a proven
and trusted company that has demonstrated — with their actions, not just their words — a commitment to our region. In my mind, that is the quickest way to keep Hibbing Taconite operational and to protect the jobs of every Steelworker working at that facility—and their families.
If re-elected — right out of gates — I’ll work to extend unemployment benefits to workers at Northshore Mining in Babbitt and Silver Bay, which idled May 1, resulting in the layoff of about 410 of the 580 employees. Times are tough enough and these benefits would provide the men and women of Northshore more certainty as they navigate their lives and families amid this idle period.
With challenges also come opportunities, and copper-nickel represents the next generation of mining jobs in the region. We have the technology and resources right here in northeastern Minnesota. We can mine these minerals here, safely, while creating well-paid, middle-class jobs. If we are to invest in solar, wind, and electric vehicles, we need these minerals. Currently, we rely on minerals mined in foreign countries with no labor or environmental standards. We cannot continue to export our jobs and our conscience overseas.
If we are to realize the massive potential of copper-nickel mining, we must eliminate red tape, duplicative, and unnecessary government bureaucracy-- and frivolous litigation by the opponents of mining. This year, I co-authored House File 3164, a bipartisan effort to create improved accountability and transparency in the state’s environmental review and permitting process of mining operations.
We need regulation and regulators to follow the science and the current laws and process, and not let political agendas delay projects for decades. I will continue work to ensure the timely consideration of job-creating projects using a thorough, predictable and fair process that complies with the state’s rigorous environmental requirements and public interest standards.
Finally, look no further than our schools to realize the importance mining plays in our future. Production taxes paid by mining companies go directly into helping fund our schools. These taxes are major sources of funding for school districts and municipalities, helping create the incredible educational opportunities our students are seeing come to life through a number of great new school projects across the region. And taconite taxes keep our property taxes down, helping every homeowner.
The Iron Range was built on the backs of our grandparents and great-grandparents, generations of our families, through strong leadership, work ethic and a unified voice about the future they wanted for their communities. It’s the same future and prosperity we want to provide to our children, grandchildren, and future generations of Iron Rangers.
My name is Dave Lislegard and I’m running for the Minnesota House 7B seat on November 8 to represent you and bring the values of hard work, leadership and a unified Iron Range voice to St. Paul, where I’ll continue to fight for our present and future mining jobs, while championing the rich past and traditions that make us proud to be from the Iron Range.
Post a comment as anonymous
Watch this discussion.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.