Iron Range commissioner files for reelection

Keith Nelson, who began serving on the St. Louis County Board in 2003, is seeking his sixth term.

Keith Nelson
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VIRGINIA — Commissioner Keith Nelson filed for reelection to the St. Louis County Board last week, seeking a sixth consecutive term.

Nelson represents the 6th District, in the south-central part of the county, and has an office at the courthouse in Virginia.

"It is both an honor and a privilege to serve the people of St. Louis County," Nelson said in a brief statement to the News Tribune.

Nelson was first elected in 2002, receiving 51% of the vote. He peaked with 97% of the vote running unopposed in 2014. Since his first election, he hasn't fallen below 56% of the vote.

Of late, Nelson has been advocating against the dumping of landfill leachate, containing forever chemical pollutants, or PFAS, into Lake Superior by proposing a $80 million-$90 million landfill and treatment campus in Canyon.


Commissioners billed the announcement Monday as an alternative to discharging leachate into Lake Superior.

Nelson joined 4th District Commissioner Paul McDonald, of Ely, in filing for office. They're the only two candidates to file so far for three seats up for election.

Frank Jewell, representing the 1st District of Duluth, has said he will step down at the end of his current term. Former Duluth School Board member Annie Harala announced she'll run for Jewell's seat, but has yet to file her candidacy.

The filing period is May 17-31.

It's a busy election cycle for St. Louis County. In addition to the three county commissioner seats up for election, there's an open county attorney's race, a race for auditor and an open race for sheriff.

Auditor Nancy Nilsen has filed for reelection, and gun store owner Chad Walsh for sheriff. Kimberly Maki, appointed by the board to county attorney upon the retirement last year of Mark Rubin, has also filed her candidacy.

Undersheriff Jason Lukovsky and former Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay have also announced their candidacies for sheriff, but have not yet filed.

ABOUT THIS PRIMARY: Incumbent District 6 St. Louis County Commissioner Keith Nelson of Eveleth is being challenged this year by John Moren of Canyon and Matt Matasich of Virginia. Two will advance from the Aug. 9 primary to Election Day on Nov. 8. All three were invited by the News Tribune Opinion page to write a column about their candidacies and qualifications. Commissioner Nelson declined. District 6 stretches from about Mountain Iron in the north to about Twig in the south.

Brady Slater covers St. Louis County and transportation for the Duluth News Tribune. He's a veteran journalist, and a University of Pittsburgh graduate who was born and raised in the Northland. He can be reached by emailing or by calling or texting 218-721-2724.
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