Reader's View: Simonson will help LSC, so no conflict
This is in response to the News Tribune editorial questioning Sen. Erik Simonson’s possible conflict of interest when he was hired by Lake Superior College ( Our View: “Demand answers on latest Simonson hiring ,” April 16).
Most Minnesota legislators are in a similar position because salaries have been low. I did not know how much I was going to receive when I ran for the Minnesota House. Later I learned the salary was $4,800 per year. I was receiving $8,900 for teaching in a Catholic high school at the time.
After serving eight years, I left for a position in the U.S. Foreign Service and was appointed executive secretary of the Natural Resources Commission by Gov. Rudy Perpich. I am glad that with Perpich’s help and the help of fellow legislators we got $5.2 million to establish the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute in 1983 and 1984. At the same time, former Rep. Jack LaVoy lobbied for funding to establish the School of Engineering at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Both projects were opposed by the administration.
Our legislators were able to get funding for our medical school, school of social work, and more. We were also very successful, as we received funding for the Great Lakes Aquarium and Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. We also landed $100 million for the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District 50 years ago, led by Rep. Willard Munger.
When I campaigned to return to St. Paul in 1984, my opponents accused me of having a conflict, working at NRRI. But I did not find it to be because I helped bring 200 jobs to Northeastern Minnesota.
Sen. Simononson will help Lake Superior College, too.
The writer served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1973 to 1981 and from 1985 to 2009.