Candidate's View: Mining, housing keys to restoring Range's glory
From the column: "I believe we have a great future here in the Northland. ... First, we must support all mining in our region."
I’m running for the Minnesota Senate in District 7. My wife Jamie and I both grew up on the Iron Range. We were living in Red Wing, Minnesota, when we decided it was time to start a family, but we knew we wanted to raise our children in the same area where we had grown up. So we found new jobs, packed up, and moved home. That was 15 years ago, and now we have four school-aged children we are raising right here in the Northland.
That’s the reason I’ve been so active in politics and why I’m running now for Minnesota Senate. When my children grow up, I want them to have the same opportunity to live here that my wife and I had. But, quite frankly, if we continue down the same path we have been going for the last 40 years, I’m not sure that’ll be possible.
Forty years ago, our downtowns and malls were full of stores and packed with customers. Today, we have a handful of small shops, a few big-box stores, and only about half the population. Forty years ago, we had proper transportation funding that gave us world-class roads. Today, there are multibillion-dollar trains in the metro; meanwhile, our Northland roads get worse each day, and we continue to wait for the Highway 169 corridor to be completed. Forty years ago, we knew mining was a good thing and the whole state recognized how important it was. Today, our mines are under attack by outsiders who want to shut them down — while occasionally using the Northland as their playground.
But that’s not the end of our story. I believe we have a great future here in the Northland. So how do we get there?
First, we must support all mining in our region. We need to protect and grow the iron-mining industry that built a nation and won two world wars. We also need to clear the way for the mining of the future. It is expected that the world will need as much copper in the next 25 years as we have produced in the last 4,000 years of human history. The Iron Range can play a pivotal role in that growth.
Next, we need to continue to make our region the best place to live. This includes continuing the development of local destinations like the Red Head Mountain Bike Trail in Chisholm and the Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Area on the East Range. This also includes encouraging more restaurants and retail options in our area. And it includes spending our transportation dollars on roads and bridges so our people can drive on safe roads when they travel through their communities.
Additionally, we need to address the dire need for more housing. This includes single-family homes as well as safe, affordable senior-housing options. I personally know too many seniors who have moved out of our area because they were ready to downsize from their single-family home but couldn’t find a suitable place to buy or rent. Senior townhome communities across the Northland would allow our folks to stay right here where they want to be.
The Northland is the best place to live, work, and raise a family. That doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges, but solving problems is what we do. So let’s work together to turn the tide, because the Northland is still worth fighting for!
Rob Farnsworth of Hibbing is the Republican 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.