Remember that bus caravan from the Iron Range to St. Paul a few years back to rally support at a hearing for PolyMet Mining?
“That was me,” David Lislegard — now state Rep. David Lislegard — said in an interview this fall with the News Tribune Editorial Board. For 10 years or more, when it comes to countering the anti-mining and anti-industry pushback that threatens the economic well-being of his Iron Range, Lislegard has been there, organizing, rallying, and doing all he can. First as a City Council member and mayor of Aurora and then as president of RAMS (the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools), director of the Jobs for Minnesotans group, and member of the board of the Laurentian Chamber of Commerce. His activism also stems from his role as a union trustee and his employment with Lakehead Constructors, where he does business relations after being a laborer, supervisor, and project manager.
For the past two years, Lislegard has represented District 6B in the Minnesota House. Eligible voters from Mountain Iron in the district’s northwest to Fredenberg Township in its southeast can keep Lislegard fighting effectively for them by voting for him in the Nov. 3 election.
“Just a passion for the Iron Range and who we are kind of led me into this,” said Lislegard, who, like his father and grandfather before him, also worked at LTV Steel Mining until it closed in 2001. “We’ve been fighting that fight for a real long time, and that’s where my passion is.”
That means St. Paul is the ideal place for him to be during legislative sessions. In his two years as a lawmaker, he said, the House had zero anti-mining hearings. He characterized that as a major win — and a good sign for his district.
“That is about bringing everybody to the table and getting them to understand. Not everyone agrees with my position, but there is that dialogue, there can be that respect and civility,” he said. “When I went down (to St. Paul), it was to build relationships, to educate and advocate.”
Lislegard is on the House Commerce Committee and House Environment and Natural Resources Committee. He also has advocated effectively for local government aid, to the tune of $12 million-plus for his district over his two years. He additionally supports pushing broadband deeper into rural areas and fully funding police while holding bad-acting officers accountable. He opposes giving local law enforcement power or authority to the state attorney general’s office.
DFLer Lislegard is being challenged by Republican Julie Buria, a former school bus driver, real estate agent, and Mountain Iron city councilor. She made headlines this summer for a social-media post comparing the state’s COVID-19 mask requirement to the Holocaust. She apologized but then said she was forced to apologize. In a one-on-one interview with the Editorial Board, Buria declined to discuss the post. More recently, news reports said she retweeted QAnon conspiracies. (A candidate column by Buria was published in Thursday’s News Tribune.)
Lislegard was elected in 2018 to replace Rep. Jason Metsa when he resigned to run for Congress. His fierce advocacy for mining and the Iron Range as well as his willingness to have conversations, compromise, and reason made him a good fit for District 6B. He remains that good fit.
“A lot of (my work in the Legislature) has to do with bringing resources to the Iron Range,” he said. “There are always going to be individuals who don't agree with you, and that’s OK. … Now more than ever I want to bring people together.”
ABOUT THIS ENDORSEMENT: This endorsement editorial was determined solely by and written by the News Tribune Editorial Board.