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Our view: Edit board reloads with eye on elections

It took more than a month, but the News Tribune is proud to announce new editorial board members and the board that’ll consider candidates and help determine the newspaper’s political endorsements this fall election season.

The little extra time could be expected, considering the more than 40 quality candidates who applied for the volunteer openings. The hopefuls included community and business leaders, a retired police chief, a sitting elected official, former board members and others whose qualifications and backgrounds were simply intriguing — and enticing.

The decisions have been made, and the five-member board will continue to include Publisher Ken Browall and Editorial Page Editor Chuck Frederick. Though accused of being both far right and far left, Browall and Frederick tend to see themselves as common-sense centric, politically speaking. Also remaining on the board is employee representative Tina Gajda, the executive assistant to the editor at the News Tribune and a resident of Northwestern Wisconsin.

Two new citizen representatives join the three News Tribune employees today. They are Donna Bergstrom and Margie Nelson, both of Duluth.

Bergstrom works for the state of Minnesota as a guardian ad litem, a court-appointed advocate for children in custody and other court proceedings. Previously, she worked in the Center for American Indian Resources clinic in Duluth, the CAIR Clinic. Before that she was a Marine, working in military intelligence. She retired as a lieutenant colonel after 22 years, including two years as a company commander in Panama.

Bergstrom, a member of the Red Lake Nation because her mother is a Red Lake tribal member, grew up in Carlton and moved to Duluth with her husband and 8-year-old son.

“I love the state of Minnesota (and) the future of what we have to offer here,” Bergstrom said. “I lived for many years out of state, and when it came time to start raising my son, I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to go back to Minnesota.’ I love the air. I love the lake. I love the people. I think we’re very progressive. It’s a great place to raise a family.”

Bergstrom has political aspirations as an extension of her military and other service to the community. In fact, she was running for the retiring Rep. Tom Huntley’s District 7A seat in the Minnesota House but dropped out after failing to win the Republican endorsement.

“My dad was a good strong Republican and (was) raised in that mindset,” Bergstrom said. “I consider myself more of a pragmatist in kind of the (U.S. Sen. David) Durenberger framework or, more currently, with (U.S. Sen. John) McCain. He’s what I consider somebody that’s willing to listen to both sides.”

When asked why she sought to join the editorial board, Bergstrom said, “It’s important to have our media put out good information on our candidates, and I think it’s important to have that endorsement process, (because) people who read the newspaper and rely on the newspaper, whether in print or electronic form, (are) looking for guidance. And they’ve come to know this editorial board is a credible board. They know it’s balanced, and they know they can use the information it provides. Maybe it’s not the only piece (of information), but it’s a piece. To participate in that is really humbling and an honor for me. It’s a great opportunity.”

Nelson also has political aspirations but isn’t pursuing them just yet. She worked on Dan Hartman’s City Council campaign and on Patrick Boyle’s runs for City Council and St. Louis County Board. Appointed by Mayor Don Ness, she served for more than two years on the Duluth Human Rights Commission, both as a commissioner and as chairwoman.

Nelson’s 2012 undergraduate degree is from the College of St. Scholastica. She received a master’s in advocacy and political leadership from the University of Minnesota Duluth this year.

She works in human resources for the Duluth YMCA.

“I’m on the younger side, but I pay attention to things and I care,” she said. “I’m not a party-line person by any means. I have a tendency to lean DFL just because … the views are similar (to mine) on the issues. But I’m very open-minded, and I like to hear what everyone has to say, and I don’t have any preconceived notions.”

Nelson grew up in San Diego but visited Duluth and the Northland often. Her mother’s side of the family is from here, influencing her decision when it came time to pick a college. Nelson and her partner recently bought a house in Duluth.

When asked why she sought to join the editorial board, Nelson said, “I really like giving back to the community. … I care about Duluth, and I want to do what’s best for Duluth and help in the ways that I can, using my skills to the benefit of the community.”

The News Tribune introduces its new editorial board members in the interest of transparency and full disclosure and welcomes aboard Bergstrom and Nelson. The newspaper also desires for its readers to better understand from where editorial opinions come — including this fall’s political endorsements.

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