No matter which candidate gets elected as commissioner in St. Louis County District 3, citizens in the western half of Duluth will have a representative who cares about people.
Ashley Grimm works at the Damiano Center, which does a lot of good things to help vulnerable members of our community. My job also involves caring for vulnerable citizens: developmentally disabled men and women, in the adult foster care home that my wife Holly and I have owned and operated for 12 years.
Where Grimm and I are different is in our approach to governance. While her website says “she holds progressive values near to her heart” and describes new services she’d like, those services mean more costs funded by your tax dollars. Now is the time to seek stability in our tax levy, not increase it.
My first priority will be to help western Duluth residents deal with the very real devastation they’ve felt from COVID-19. We need to get St. Louis County back on its feet by making tough decisions based on today’s reality.
The county should tap into budget reserves and available non-mandated discretionary funds on a short-term basis to fill in gaps. Battling fallout from this pandemic is exactly why fund reserves exist. We should explore and implement as many logical options as possible. That includes fast-tracking development projects that will help spur growth, jumpstart our local small businesses, and get men and women back to work with well-paying jobs.
As a life-long resident of Duluth’s Fond du Lac neighborhood, a 2001 Denfeld High School graduate, and a member of the Irving Community Club board, I know that western Duluthians value and need family-supporting jobs. As your commissioner, I will push to take real steps to help create real jobs.
That includes removing roadblocks that hamper much-needed development. It’s time to put pipeline and mining politics aside and let thousands of skilled, union workers get going on them. Fortunately, there’s a lot of widespread support for these projects throughout St. Louis County. Now we need to make them a reality. I’m honored to be endorsed by the Duluth Building and Construction Trades Council, IronWorkers Local 512, and UA Local No. 11.
The best way to enhance our county isn’t to tax more; it’s to prioritize better. We should look at whether a service is truly essential. A few years ago, when the county-run Chris Jensen Nursing Home was losing more than $1 million per year, the county took the difficult step of transitioning it to the private sector. I intend to keep identifying bold ways to serve residents while finding cost-saving opportunities.
One area that needs our continued support is law enforcement. Over the years we have witnessed a decline in public support for our law enforcement by some in our community. Sadly, we see this same rhetoric from some elected officials and even by a few seeking office. Now more than ever we need elected officials to support our sheriff’s department and provide it with the resources necessary to carry out its exceptionally difficult work.
My commitment to law enforcement has always been strong. I earned a degree in law enforcement from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in 2004. I’m honored that the St. Louis County Deputy Sheriff’s Association has endorsed me for office.
When you cast your vote, you’re not really voting for a person as much as for an approach. On the County Board, my approach will be to watch out for you, the residents in the western half of Duluth.
I will bring perspectives that come from being a husband, father of three, volunteer youth coach, and small business owner. In all those roles, I always need to balance how spending impacts our budgets.
As your next commissioner, I will always remember that the county is spending your money. I’d be honored to earn your vote.
Joe Macor is running against Ashley Grimm to replace District 3 St. Louis County Board Commissioner Beth Olson, who didn’t seek re-election. He wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page.