Monday, October 08, 2012 By Aaron Brown
He used the occasion to reiterate his support for these projects, including whatever Magnetation needs in its quest to open new endeavors in coming years. In general, it was an event highlighting the relative strength and prosperity of iron mining in the area.
Northland's News Center were among those reporting the story:
The growth of mining jobs and related industry on the western end of the Mesabi, i.e. Itasca County, could affect local political races.
In House District 5B and Senate District 5, both Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Twsp) and Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids), respectively, can lay some claim to early support for these projects and a good deal of supporting legislation to their credit. Since both of them are in tough races in new districts that include "non-Range" portions of northern Minnesota, the general optimism in this area could give them a boost.
Still, many of the strongest DFL portions of Itasca County were drawn into the new SD6, including safe incumbents Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm) and Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing). SD5, which includes the Range from Taconite to Grand Rapids, western Itasca County, Cass and Beltrami counties and portions of neighboring counties, is the real bellwhether for control of the legislature this year. GOP and DFL incumbents are facing off in the Senate race and each of the 5A and 5B house races.
Senate 5: Saxhaug vs. Sen. John Carlson (R-Bemidji);
House 5A: Rep. John Persell (DFL-Bemidji) vs. Rep. Larry Howes (R-Walker);
House 5B: Anzelc vs. Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick (R-Deer River).
Interestingly, not only are all of these races "incumbent vs. incumbent," but every candidate has a distinct political "base" in their new district that they are running up against their opponent's base. It is truly the legislative version of a well-promoted prize fight.
The political indexes show all three races as closely matched and, frankly, they will remain swing districts for this entire 10-year census cycle. If SD5, HD5A and HD5B are swept by one party or another I think we can expect that party to control the legislature. If they are split up, sit back for a long night.
BONUS: MinnPost's Doug Grow, along with James Nord and Cyndy Brucato, posted an excellent story on the issues in legislative races across the state, and includes the following discussion of 5B, which shows you one of the key issues that have developed:
Property tax, homestead credit DFL issues
The DFL has found another way to highlight economic issues, attempting to pound home, especially in rural areas, the combined impact of rising property taxes and the loss of the homestead tax credit. These are especially significant concerns in Iron Range areas like House District 5B, where two incumbents — Tom Anzelc and Carolyn McElfatrick — are facing off.
Rep. Tom Anzelc argues that the property tax system works better in the metro than in northern Minnesota. The small commercial tax base complicates finances there.
"Property taxes don't work for us,'' Anzelc says. "Mining pays no property tax. Forestry industry pays at a reduced rate, or not at all. There's no property tax on the Indian reservations. There are no property taxes on state, federal county parklands. When the philosophy is to pay for services with property taxes, it might work in the metro areas but it simply doesn't work for us.''
GOP policies supported by McElfatrick, he said, have led to increases in property taxes. The elimination of the homestead credit has "caused great pain, and my opponent voted for that,” he said.' Anzelc admits these are complex issues to frame neatly: "But more so than in past elections, people seem to understand the links [between state legislative financial decisions and local taxes].”
Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick's views are in line with much of the GOP on the government's role in job creation. McElfatrick outlines her views on government’s role in job creation on her website:
“There seems to be a belief that it is government’s responsibility to create jobs. That’s not the system that built the economic powerhouse that is America. It is not the duty of government to create jobs. It is the rightful role of government to stay out of the way and let the free market system do that.”
* DISCLOSURE: I am a friend of Rep. Tom Anzelc and run his campaigns. This is the last of my remaining direct political activity. I believe that House District 5B is a fascinating race but have refrained from speaking about it much because of my obvious conflict of interest. As always, I endeavor to be honest and forthright about what's going on.