MOUNTAIN IRON — A Republican-endorsed candidate for the Minnesota House is facing calls to drop her candidacy and resign her post as a Mountain Iron city councilor after she made a Facebook post that compared the state’s coronavirus response to the Holocaust.
Julie Buria is running for the Minnesota House 6B seat in November and shared a circulating meme to her personal social media page that suggested the peacetime emergency powers of Gov. Tim Walz were more dangerous than COVID-19, using graphic imagery of the Holocaust to make the point.
The post, which appears to have been deleted and her account set to private, comes after the Wabasha County GOP posted a photo this past Tuesday comparing the state’s new mask mandate to the Holocaust, prompting the resignation of a board member.
Buria’s post was quickly condemned on social media after the Jewish Community Action Minnesota group shared it on Twitter, asking “Where is the bottom?” in reference to the two Holocaust-themed posts this week.
Buria, in an email Thursday evening, said she regretted sharing the post.
“Everyone who knows me knows that I have always been a fervent supporter of Israel and the Jewish people. I regret sharing the post and apologize for its graphic nature. I will continue to press the issues that matter to Rangers like mining, supporting our law enforcement, and getting our friends and neighbors back to work.”
GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan condemned the Wabasha post earlier this week, just hours after the party said it was believed to be a hack of the group’s Facebook page.
On Buria, she said: "We spoke with Julia following her post, and as she said in her apology, she immediately regretted the post and was sincere in her apology to not let it happen again. As we said earlier, we are saddened by these vitriolic posts and hope as we move forward that Republicans and Democrats alike will maintain the highest level of integrity, respect, and sensitivity."
The Minnesota DFL party tweeted that the “silence of @mngop leadership speaks volumes.”
Buria’s opponent in November is DFL incumbent State Rep. Dave Lislegard of Aurora. He said the post was “not who we want to be.”
“This is very disappointing and exactly the type of divisive behavior that has ripped our state and country apart,” Lislegard wrote in a statement. “Playing off of the pain and suffering of any group, especially a genocide of millions of Jewish people, should not be viewed lightly. We live in challenging times and extreme behavior by anyone does not help. I ask everyone to be more thoughtful in our discourse going forward.”
Mountain Iron Mayor Gary Skalko, when reached by phone Thursday afternoon, said the message of the post didn’t represent the city of Mountain Iron. He had not seen the post but was audibly upset when the content was described to him.
“It just sickens me that we would compare something like this to the Holocaust,” he said. “It’s incomprehensible. This is someone that’s supposed to represent all of us. This really crossed the line.”
Skalko said he would not seek Buria’s resignation from the city council, but said he personally believes she should leave her post.
Steve Giorgi, executive director of the Range Association of Municipalities and School and resident of Mountain Iron, openly called her to leave the council. RAMS is an organization that represents local cities and schools, and its board members are made up of city councilors and school board directors.
“How disgusting and disappointing as my city council member,” he tweeted. “Time to resign, you don't represent my best interests — on any issue.”
This story was updated Monday with a comment from GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan. A previous request for comment did not reach Carnahan, who responded through GOP Executive Director Rebecca Alery on Saturday.