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Our View / Endorsement: Forsman has the horsepower

From the editorial: "All that involvement and public service has given him connections, relationships, and inside knowledge in St. Paul, all of which can help him be effective as a legislator, too."

Arik Forsman portrait
Arik Forsman
Lynnette's Portrait Design
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The Northland is losing decades of legislative knowledge and invaluable influence in St. Paul with the resignations this year of Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook, Rep. Jen Schultz of Duluth, Rep. Mike Sundin of Esko, and Sen. David Tomassoni of Chisholm.

“We’re really losing a lot of our seniority and our horsepower as a region,” Duluth City Councilor and legislative candidate Arik Forsman said in an interview this summer with News Tribune Editorial Board members. “It’s really important in this election that we have folks who can go down to the state Capitol and not only hit the ground running but who know how to build those relationships across the aisle to pick up the torch and to try to carry forward some of the legacy to make sure that our region still bats above its weight class.”

Forsman feels he’s one of those folks, of course. And in the Aug. 9 DFL primary for Minnesota House District 8B in eastern Duluth, voters can choose him to advance to Election Day on Nov. 8 to run against Republican Becky Hall in the race to replace Rep Schultz.

“I’m someone who has a passion for public service. My involvement in the community didn’t start when I started serving on the (Duluth City) Council,” said Forsman, who’s council president this year.

Indeed, over the years, Forsman has served on more than 15 boards, commissions, and task forces — to give back and to contribute to his community, he said. That service has included the Duluth Economic Development Authority, the 1200 Fund board, VisitDuluth board, Community Action Duluth board, the Earned Sick and Safe Time Task Force, the St. Louis County Civil Service Commission, and the Duluth parks and recreation and library boards. He was a leader of the Spirit Mountain Task Force and president of the Northspan board.

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All in addition to his day job in economic development for Minnesota Power.

“What that does is it brings a well-rounded view of the community to the table in addition to the fact I’ve had a City Council inbox for the past four years,” Forsman said. “I’ve had a direct connection to what people are thinking, to what issues are priorities for folks, and I have worked on many of those issues in my time on the council.”

All that involvement and public service has given him connections, relationships, and inside knowledge in St. Paul, all of which can help him be effective as a legislator, too. His focuses, he said, will include education, especially special-ed funding, long a crippling expense for the Duluth and other school districts; affordability in the face of inflation that’s driving up the costs of health care, child care, and housing, all barriers creating workforce challenges for employers in the Northland and elsewhere; and climate change. He helped lead the Duluth City Council’s climate-emergency declaration and pushed for a climate action work plan for the city.

“Folks who have experience on a local unit of government like city council or school board know you have to get things done. You don’t have a choice about whether you want to pass a budget or not,” Forsman said. “When you start as a local official, you get used to getting things done (and) maybe build up the political courage it takes to do things that aren’t always popular within your own party.”

That’s some of what sets Forsman apart from his DFL opponent in the primary.

Alicia Kozlowski, as impressive as she is as a Duluthian and candidate — she’s a community relations officer for the city of Duluth, the first openly gay Latina-Ojibwe woman to serve on the Executive Leadership Team in city history, and a first-generation college grad with an undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth and a master’s in business administration from the College of St. Scholastica — is attempting to jump from the political sidelines to the statehouse, without the benefit of lower-office elected experience.

“A voice like mine is never represented,” she said in a separate interview with Editorial Board members, in which she expressed support for the Green New Deal, affordable housing, climate justice, human rights, and health care for all. “Growing up, we really faced a lot of the struggles that a lot of our working-class families face in Duluth, from poverty, addiction, couch surfing, public assistance — you name it, we faced it.”

Kozlowski referred to herself as a “cycle-breaker.” No doubt she will continue to be.

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Just as Forsman can continue on as the DFL’s candidate on Election Day for the Minnesota House district in eastern Duluth, a community he has long been serving.

ABOUT: This News Tribune endorsement was determined solely by the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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