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Candidate's View: Political maturity, experience are needed in District 3A

As an enthusiastic Koochiching County commissioner for the past five years, I have worked closely with officials and staff at the municipal, county, state and federal levels on issues affecting my constituents.

Rob Ecklund

As an enthusiastic Koochiching County commissioner for the past five years, I have worked closely with officials and staff at the municipal, county, state and federal levels on issues affecting my constituents.
Prior to being elected, I served my home area in multiple other ways. As past chairman of the Pulp and Paperworker’s Resource Council and as a member of the Minnesota Wood Fiber Council, my focus was on environmental and forest issues affecting our forest-products industry. In both these roles, I called on elected officials and testified at committee hearings at the state and federal levels.
As a longtime DFL activist, I have been a precinct chairman and a delegate at several state conventions. I was president of USW Local 159 for nine years, vice president for two years and treasurer for two years.
Perhaps the biggest issue facing Minnesota House District 3A is our declining population. Our large industries have done a great job of modernizing, but that has resulted in fewer jobs.  We must work to keep our current industries strong and vital, and we must also diversify. We have many species of wood that are not selling well at auction. The state should provide research incentives to develop new products that would better utilize these species.
One proud accomplishment at the Legislature was getting a bill passed requiring that state offices buy paper manufactured in Minnesota whenever possible. The same can be done for the mining industry: requiring American-made steel in our construction projects.  
I support mining 100 percent. We have the most stringent regulatory agencies in the world. We must rely on the science when any new project is put in place. We need to be environmentally responsible; however, if these potential projects are vetted completely and safeguard standards are carefully adhered to, then I support them going forward.
District 3A needs upgrades in technology. I aggressively will champion bringing broadband to every community. Technology is the driving factor for everything in the current economy. With a cool to cold climate for much of the year, I believe we are the right place to start building data centers. Given the data being passed today, these types of centers are critical.
I will follow through on bonding requests submitted by municipalities and counties of District 3A. There are good pending requests for clean-water projects, airport projects, and to repair and expand parks and campgrounds. The state bonding process is a terrific way to generate needed resources that boost local economies through jobs and investments.
I have been and will continue to be a proponent of clean water and municipal sewer projects throughout the region. These projects provide jobs during the construction phase and help to clean up area waters.
Tourism is one of the industries where we can build jobs. With Voyageurs National Park, the Boundary Waters, and the North Shore as destinations, and with the overall outstanding vacation and recreational opportunities we boast, we can do more. The expansion of ATV trails would boost future tourism. I am committed to creatively promoting this industry.
We need to look for a new funding formula so our schools are well-financed to educate our most valuable resource, our children. We must also ensure that our seniors and veterans have the programs and services they have earned through their work and service to us. As Gandhi said, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable.”
I recognize that accomplishing anything legislatively requires a bipartisan approach and openness. I will work through my DFL caucus and the Iron Range Delegation. When circumstances call for it, however, I will seek out any and all resources to serve my constituents in the best way I can.
My lifelong passion has been to make a difference for the part of Minnesota I call home.  Perhaps that is why friends and advisors tell me one of the greatest things I have to offer District 3A is “political maturity and experience.”

Rob Ecklund is one of four candidates in Tuesday’s DFL primary election for Minnesota House District 3A. One will advance to a special election Dec. 8 to face Republican Roger Skraba and Independent Kelsey Johnson. The other DFL candidates are Bill Hansen, Eric Johnson, and Heidi Omerza. Columns from all the DFL candidates are being published this week.

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