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Unofficial results are in for Minnesota House District 3A and 3B recounts

The State Canvassing Board will certify the official results Dec. 15.

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Roger Skraba and Natalie Zeleznikar
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DULUTH — The publicly funded recounts for the Minnesota House of Representatives District 3A and 3B races concluded Wednesday afternoon. Election officials began recounts in Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis counties Monday. The unofficial results were in line with those of the general election.

Roger J. Skraba, a Republican from Ely, led the recount for District 3A with a mere 15 votes over incumbent Robert Ecklund, DFL-International Falls, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State. Each candidate had a recount difference of minus-1 from the general election results. Three ballots were challenged by Ecklund; one by Skraba; and eight by both candidates.

"I'm proud to say to all the election deniers that Minnesota has a darn good system. I called my opponent a couple hours ago and conceded. We have some challenges, but not enough to overcome the election results," Ecklund said.

"In my view, I've had a terrific record of taking care of my district legislatively. I ran on issues," he said. "It's frustrating that it's come to this day in age that issues don't matter and that records don't matter; it's what you can fit into a 30-second sound bite that matters."

Ecklund plans to continue pursuing opportunities in veteran's services or broadband issues in the future. He added, "I'm not going away in that regard. I'm too young to just fade into the woodwork."

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Natalie Zeleznikar, a Republican from Duluth, led the recount for District 3B with a mere 35 votes over incumbent Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State. Neither party challenged any ballots during the recount. The recount difference compared to the general election results for Zeleznikar was one vote, and three votes for Murphy.

“Dedicating decades of public service to the Arrowhead region has been the honor of my lifetime. ... I have enjoyed and am humbled by every minute," Murphy said in a statement. “I have faith in our free and fair elections system, and thank all the election workers for their unwavering commitment to accessible democracy. Finally and most importantly, I would like to extend gratitude and say thank you to everyone in our communities for allowing me the privilege to represent them and the Arrowhead region at the Minnesota House of Representatives.”

"I knew this election would be tough," Zeleznikar said. "Running against a 46-year incumbent is unique, and it took a strong grassroots effort. I have never been in politics, but I have served this community as a leader and volunteer for many decades. I look forward to the opportunity to lead in a new way."

Once in session, Zeleznikar plans work alongside representatives from across the state to address the $17.6 billion surplus. Among her priorities will be returning some of the surplus to those who are tax filers, with a one-time rebate of $4,000 or more, she said.

“The golden opportunity that we have to make Minnesota an even better and fairer and more inclusive and more prosperous state is there,” said DFL Gov. Tim Walz. Legislative Republicans said the growing record surplus is a sign the state needs tax relief. Incoming House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth called the surplus "jaw-dropping."

Her focus will be on supporting the elimination of the tax on Social Security benefits, property tax relief, and lower income taxes for low- and middle- income families.

Zeleznikar also supports investing in public safety by hiring more law enforcement officers. She hopes to serve on the Health and Human Services Committee to seek long-term solutions for 24-hour care settings, support childcare, mining and small business growth and development.

Next, the State Canvassing Board must certify the results at its meeting Dec. 15 at 1 p.m.

This story was updated at 4:12 p.m. with quotes from Ecklund and Murphy, and again at 5:17 p.m. with quotes from Zeleznikar. It was originally posted at 3:40 p.m. Dec. 7.

Brielle Bredsten is the business reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.

She earned a bachelor's degree in Professional Writing & Technical Communication, with minors in Advertising and Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University, in addition to a two-year professional paid internship as reporter/editor of the student newspaper.

She is an award-winning professional writer, photographer and editor based in rural Minnesota. Over the past decade, Brielle Bredsten has contributed more than 1,000 articles, feature stories, non-profit press-releases, photographs and columns. Her work has been published in several community newspapers.

Send her story tips, feedback or just say hi at bbredsten@duluthnews.com.
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