St. Louis County Board is one of the least-discussed yet most-important local races. The board helps determine our public health initiatives, housing options, property taxes, and support for families and neighborhoods in the years ahead. I promise to bring the skills and commitment to do it right.
Over my last eight months of campaigning for the County Board, many of you have shared what you’d like to see: passion to do the job; accountability to the people; movement on housing, roads, and keeping families together; and investment and jobs in our side of the city. I will fight for that vision and would be honored to have your vote in November.
I am the candidate who is passionate about this specific job. While you might hear a lot about mining or other hot-button issues, I am invested in the issues the county actually oversees. The county implements our state-mandated programs, from child protective services to public health initiatives. I have spent the last 13 years serving families and students and understand the preventative programs that work to keep families together and budgets in line. We desperately need to keep pushing St. Louis County to keep families safe, healthy, and whole, whenever possible.
I will also bring accountability to the board, which is a skill hard-earned. Serving almost seven years on Duluth’s Human Rights Commission and in other organizing groups, I have pushed lawmakers to be accountable to our residents on issues of housing, community development, more school resources for Denfeld, and transparency in hiring decisions.
You can also count on me to push for the west side and the issues we care about with a real sense of urgency. Like many of us, I pick up needles weekly and have friends and loved ones unable to find adequate mental health resources or make their property tax payments on a fixed income. I am concerned about the shootings and deep divides in our community.
While it is important to work with the sheriff’s office, the sheriff is an elected, independent position, and the bulk of the county’s impact would actually be seen in how well or how poorly we fight for the treatment options, mental health resources, and the housing that helps make our community safer and healthier.
I am also dedicated to finding ways for our county to promote local jobs, and I will push the county to find the best uses for vacant land, reduce red tape, and support blight reduction and partnerships with local businesses on Duluth’s west side.
Lastly, I will run a tight ship financially. That starts with the board seat. Board members are paid around $66,000 a year, a full-time salary, paid for with our tax money. It must be a full-time job and should be more than that. As a taxpayer, I disagree with my opponent's decision to keep his current job if elected. And I have concerns about his proposal to run a deficit by spending the county’s rainy day fund without plans to replenish these funds when we have growth years. (Like this year: we are still projected to grow 5%, so we could regain some footing without increasing property taxes.)
Finally, we should not, as my opponent has praised, privatize county services. This would result in a disinvestment in our community and the turning over of critical human services to for-profit ventures.
Western Duluthians in District 3, I ask for your vote. I commit to doing the work of the county full-time, using my experience managing health and human service programs on a budget and continuing to be a community advocate who works with community groups and local officials to pass policy that protects Duluthians. I promise to always remember the impact of the work on your life and to serve with commitment and deep dedication to us and our neighborhoods. I hope to have your support in the Nov. 3 election — and even more, your partnership in the work ahead.
Ashley Grimm is running against Joe Macor to replace District 3 St. Louis County Board Commissioner Beth Olson, who didn’t seek re-election. She wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page.