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Remembering Oberstar in the Northland and beyond

“He was able to get things done for the whole state of Minnesota. He wasn’t just the representative for the northeastern part of Minnesota — but he never forgot where he came from. …

“There are very few congressmen across the country that will ever accomplish what Jim Oberstar accomplished.”

— FORMER STATE REP. TOM RUKAVINA, DFL-PIKE TOWNSHIP

“I’m shocked and stunned by Jim Oberstar’s death. For decades he and I were partners across the Wisconsin-Minnesota state line in doing good things for the Northland. He was a great Congressman and a wonderful human being. He had guts and his top priority was always, in every way, the economic wellbeing of working families everywhere.”

— FORMER REP. DAVE OBEY, D-WIS.

“Some people had the gall to say that he had lost touch with his roots back home. But Jim Oberstar never forgot where he came from. Never forgot his father was a union steelworker. Never forget what was important at home. He was busy at work in Washington doing good work to support those people. But maybe he should have come back and thumped his chest more to brag about it.”

—GEORGE SUNDSTROM, LONGTIME DULUTH LABOR LEADER

“Over the past 50 years, no public official has done more for our region than Jim Oberstar. He was this amazing combination of characteristics. He was likely the most brilliant mind in Congress, his memory and understanding of complex policy was legendary. He was also part Iron Range street fighter, he always carried that chip on his shoulder as the son of an immigrant mine laborer. But the most amazing thing about Jim is that he was one of the most kind-hearted and warm people I’ve ever met. He loved people and people loved Jim.”

— DULUTH MAYOR DON NESS

“He knew what it was like to work in the mines and do actual manual labor because he did it. He left and went to college and went to Congress ... but he never forgot about the people he worked with on the Iron Range. And he always had a commitment to keep this country the kind of place where the son of a miner could be a U.S. congressman. ...

“Some people talk about policy as if it’s a bad thing. But Jim had a passion for good policy because he saw how it could change people’s lives. He was passionate about building a transportation system that worked.”

— JOHN SCHADL, LONGTIME OBERSTAR STAFFER AND PRESS SECRETARY

“Jim Oberstar was a mentor and a friend and a man of true purpose and grit. His purpose? To make life better for the people of northern Minnesota and our world. His method? Knowing all the facts and never giving up just like the people he represented.”

— SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-MINN.

“Congressman Oberstar was a true champion for the people of the 8th District, and for our entire state. He worked tirelessly to bring jobs, economic growth, and a better quality of life to his constituents.”

— MINNESOTA GOV. MARK DAYTON

“A long-time public servant, Congressman Oberstar brought Minnesota’s Iron Range values of honesty, loyalty and hard work to Washington D.C. for residents of the 8th Congressional District. Congressman Oberstar was one of the leading experts on transportation and aviation issues in the country. He held many leadership positions dealing with these issues and was internationally recognized for his expertise. …

“Minnesota lost a true legend and our thoughts are with his family at his time.”

— MINNESOTA DFL PARTY CHAIR KEN MARTIN

“Though we may have had our differences, I still respected Congressman Oberstar as a serving member of Congress. My thoughts and prayers go out to Congressman Oberstar’s family.”

— FORMER REP. CHIP CRAVAACK, R-MINN.

“Congressman Oberstar was a tremendous servant and advocate for Northeastern Minnesota, and for Minnesotans statewide. He was committed to safe transportation, public access to Minnesota’s beautiful parks and trails, and to bringing jobs to the people of Minnesota’s 8th district.”

— MINNESOTA LT. GOV. YVONNE PRETTNER SOLON

“Jim Oberstar served the Eighth District virtually his entire adult life, but his work went well beyond his Congressional District, and the people of Minnesota and the entire country are better off for his service.

“By the time Jim rose to Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, he knew more about transportation than anyone in this country. The first time I saw Jim in action as Chairman, he was presiding over a hearing on high speed rail with witnesses from Japan and France, and several other countries, all of which — to our shame — are far ahead of us in high speed rail.

“When it came time for the Chairman to ask his questions, I learned that Jim had piloted every one of these high speed trains, and Jim questioned the French witness in his own language in startlingly fluent French. It was a tour de force.”

— SEN. AL FRANKEN, D-MINN.

“Our city, state and nation lost today one of our greatest public servants. An Iron Ranger to the core, he never forgot where he came from and fought tirelessly to strengthen local communities here at home and across the country. As we prepare for our Twin Cities to be connected for the first time by light rail transit when the Green Line opens next month, it is a shame that our greatest champion for transit won’t be there with us.”

— ST. PAUL MAYOR CHRIS COLEMAN

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