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Candidate's View: Elect experience, a focus on adding jobs, stronger schools

From the column: "Times are tough today, but one thing I’ve learned as a small-business owner, volunteer firefighter, county commissioner, and mayor is that we are tougher."

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Ben DeNucci
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I’m running for state Senate District 7 to represent you and everyone who calls the Northland home. I’m a lifelong Ranger. My family has lived in Nashwauk for over 115 years. The DeNuccis first moved here to work in the mines, an industry that gave us a shot at middle-class life and that built the Iron Range as we know it.

Times are tough today, but one thing I’ve learned as a small-business owner, volunteer firefighter, county commissioner, and mayor is that we are tougher. I’m committed to the values my friend Sen. David Tomassoni lived by, including putting aside partisan differences to pass legislation and to make deals for what matters: each other.

From the column by Rob Farnsworth: "I believe we have a great future here in the Northland. ... First, we must support all mining in our region."

I want to see the Northland continue being the best place to live, raise a family, work a good-paying career, and retire comfortably. We need to protect our region and way of life.

I’m running a campaign centered on three issues: local jobs, strong schools, and healthy communities.

We are blessed with abundant natural resources in the Northland. Our iron ore built 20th-century America, and our metals deposits can power the country through the 21st century. I’m a PolyMet and Twin Metals champion. If we put a stop to endless attacks on our permitting process, the Northland can become a national leader in responsibly mining non-ferrous metals required for wind turbines, batteries, and electric cars. Our skilled union workforce knows how to do this safely, while preserving the natural environment that drives so much of our tourism and outdoor-recreation economies. Miners need our support; as corporate profits continue rising, it is irresponsible not to make land deals that can keep all of our mines open for decades to come. The Iron Range made these companies rich; I will work to keep them accountable and their jobs local.

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I'm running so the Northland has the strongest schools in the state. Our students deserve their fair share of funding, and we need legislators who will put them first. A zip code shouldn't determine the quality of a public education. One of my proudest accomplishments was working on a team to pass a referendum replacing the oldest school in the state, on land I helped acquire through a U.S. Steel donation.

Now I'm going to St. Paul to bring that $9 billion surplus home for our students. The surplus is an opportunity to fund special education, expand career and technical training opportunities, and pay educators a living wage, all without raising property taxes. That’s our money. We should get it back.

The generations who built our communities deserve comfort in retirement. That means access to high-quality health care close to home, world-class broadband, and safe nursing and assisted-living homes. It also means not worrying about the costs of living on a fixed income increasing. I will sponsor legislation to eliminate Social Security taxes and set payment limits on prescription drugs.

I believe we have a responsibility to each other; my opponent is on record wanting to take women’s existing freedoms away so politicians of his ilk can have a veto in the doctor’s office. I will keep government out of private decisions about how and when to start or expand a family.

With experience as a successful small-business grocery-store owner, I know the local economy, what our communities need, and how government can be responsive to help businesses and working families thrive. As a mayor and county commissioner, I have the experience to do this work on day one. It would be a humbling honor to earn your vote for Minnesota Senate.

Ben DeNucci of Nashwauk is the DFL candidate for Minnesota Senate District 7. He wrote this for the News Tribune at the request of the Opinion page.

ABOUT THIS RACE:
Sen. David Tomassoni died in August after three decades of service in the Minnesota Legislature, including 22 years in the Minnesota Senate. DFLer Ben DeNucci of Nashwauk and Republican Robert Farnsworth of Hibbing are running to replace Tomassoni in Minnesota Senate District 7, which includes portions of Aitkin, Itasca, and St. Louis counties. The district stretches from about Embarrass Township in its northeast to about Palisade in its southwest. Election Day is Nov. 8. Early voting is already open.

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