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DULUTH — Several state and St. Louis County races will appear on Nov. 8 election ballots for Duluth area and county voters: Senate districts 8 and 3, House districts 8B, 3B and 8A, a sheriff's race and a county board seat.

To find your polling place, click here.

The Star Tribune asked each candidate the following questions in advance of the election to help voters decide. Answers were edited for length. Candidates are listed alphabetically.

Senate District 3

Grant Hauschild
Grant Hauschild

Grant Hauschild (DFL)

Age: 33

City of residence: Hermantown

Educational background: Bachelor's degree in political science, University of North Dakota; Master's degree in public policy, George Washington University

Occupation: Executive director, Essentia Health Foundation

Family: Wife Grace, son Henry (2), and daughter Isla (9 months)

Experience: I'm currently a member of the Hermantown City Council, where I've been an advocate for expanding parks and trails, funding public safety and first responders and working with our legislators on bonding projects and local government aid. In my day job I work for a healthcare foundation where I help support patients and families that can't afford certain aspects of their care. Before that, I worked on labor policy as an aide in the U.S. Senate, and on rural economic development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Why are you running? When I became a father, I started thinking more about what kind of state we're leaving behind for our young people. Given my experience working at federal, state, and local levels, I bring a strong background in policy and a fresh perspective necessary to truly deliver for the Northland. As our senator, I will be an independent voice for the Northland and stay out of the nonsense that is distracting far too many politicians from serving Minnesotans.

Top three issues facing your district and plans to address them: Cost of living: Having a young family of my own, I know folks are struggling with rising costs. The most important thing we can do is use Minnesota's $9 Billion budget surplus to provide immediate relief to families through middle class tax cuts, childcare tax credits, and eliminating the tax on social security income for those on fixed income. We need a senator who will negotiate for our fair share of local government aid, which will reduce the burden on local property taxes and make our communities more affordable. I'll work to find common ground, tune out the partisan nonsense, and make sure we're getting relief to the families and communities when they need it most.

Strong and safe communities: Our region thrives when our communities are strong and secure. Everything from the mental health crisis to recruitment for first responders in our rural Northland communities are impacting our ability to keep our communities strong. We need increased public safety funding to hire and train more officers and to fix the funding gap for critical Emergency Medical Services (EMS) so our rural residents can rely on them when minutes and seconds matter. Lastly, we need to secure our fair share for our Northland schools, rural critical access hospitals, and other critical resources our communities rely upon to stay strong and safe.

Getting our Fair Share for the Northland: Here in the Northland, we provide many of the critical things the rest of Minnesota relies on, from our taconite and timber to our beautiful outdoors. However, our region is at a crossroads with the recent passing of Sen. David Tomassoni and the retirement of Sen. Tom Bakk. We need a state senator who can deliver for our region. That means expanding Local Government Aid so our local communities have the funding and flexibility to grow. It means fighting to protect our taconite tax funds for our schools and communities. And it means securing a bonding bill that puts our hardworking people to work on important projects for our communities.


Andrea Zupancich
Andrea Zupancich

Andrea Zupancich (R)

Age: 53

City of residence: Babbitt

Educational background: Bachelor's degree from UW-Stout; Kaplan Real Estate Education

Occupation: Real estate broker and owner of company

Family: Married to Jim for 24 years, four children: Alexandra and Erika Maple (28, twins), Kirsten Traut (23) and Jimmy Zupancich (19). One grandson, Linc Traut.

Experience: Mayor of Babbitt since 2014, city councilor 2012-13, small business owner for 14 years, board member in good standing with Jobs for Minnesotans, Up North Jobs and Range Association of Realtors.

Why are you running? I would love to help and see the district grow and thrive. We need to push forth critical mineral mining and be leaders in that industry; get Polymet open (they have been trying for 18 years and are cleaning up the brown site from the previous mine) and see Twin Metals start their process. I want to keep our kids living here and raising their families instead of moving away due to a lack of good jobs.

Top three issues facing your district? Education, jobs that are life sustaining, housing, economy and crime.

Plans to address those issues? I'm hoping to be on multiple committees and be that strong voice and push forth these issues.


State Senate District 8

Jen McEwen
Jen McEwen

Jen McEwen (incumbent, DFL)

Age: 44

City of residence: Duluth

Educational background: Juris doctor, Mitchell Hamline School of Law; Bachelor's degree, University of Maine

Occupation: Minnesota State Senator, District 8

Family: I was raised in Duluth, and my family here goes back several generations on both sides. Before their retirements, my mom was a nurse at St. Mary's hospital and my dad was a teacher in Duluth Public Schools. I'm a graduate of Duluth Public Schools. I have two teenage children, and my spouse is a public high school social studies teacher.

Experience: I was elected to my current office in 2020. Before serving in the Minnesota Senate I worked as a public interest lawyer. I've worked for legal aid, in public defense, and as an advocate for disabled workers fighting insurance companies that deny people benefits they are entitled to. I'm a former board president and a current board member of the Damiano Center, which provides food security and basic services to struggling families in the Duluth area.

Why are you running? In my first term, I advocated for the needs of working people statewide and the needs of Duluth. I'm proud of the work we've done to support essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, advance the cause of universal health care in Minnesota, defend reproductive freedom and meet the climate crisis. But there is so much more we need to do, and so much at stake. The choices we make now will determine how we come through these times, and will set in motion the future that lies ahead for ourselves, our children, and the generations to come.

Top three issues facing your district? If re-elected, I will continue leading on statewide efforts to establish healthcare as a right through the adoption of the Minnesota Health Plan, a plan for comprehensive, universal healthcare, free at the point of service, and separate from employment. I will also continue to move us toward an urgent, worker-led, just transition to a clean energy economy, while prioritizing and protecting our waters. Additionally, I will continue to work with our delegation and my colleagues to deliver on our local priorities — including bringing home Local Government Aid dollars and state investments that allow the city of Duluth to provide vital services and hold the line on property taxes.

Plans to address those issues? Healthcare: I believe healthcare should be a right. I am proud to be a founding member and co-chair of the legislature's new Minnesota Health Plan Caucus, which advocates for universal public health care coverage for all Minnesotans regardless of employment status. The United States is the only country in the world amongst our peer nations that does not guarantee healthcare as a right to its citizens. Our private, profit-driven healthcare system holds us back, and it produces cruel, inhumane results. It is unacceptable that in our nation — the wealthiest nation to ever exist — that many people go without needed health care due to cost, are forced to choose between necessary healthcare and basic necessities, and find themselves in financial ruin upon receiving a serious health diagnosis. I will continue to lead on this issue and fight for the adoption of the Minnesota Health Plan.

Clean energy and the climate crisis: Taking urgent action on the climate crisis and building the new clean energy economy is THE issue of our time. Northeastern Minnesota, with our traditionally resource-based economy and heavy reliance on fossil fuels, is placed particularly at risk by the climate crisis. We need to begin working together immediately to plan and implement a transition to a clean-energy future that will sustain us and allow us to thrive into the future. This starts with stopping investments into carbon-based industries such as new pipelines. We must enact comprehensive legislation toward building up our new clean energy economy and systems, including a rapid phase-out of all fossil-fuel based industry. I fully support a Green New Deal, as well as a moratorium on all new fossil fuel industry infrastructure, accompanied by a rapid wind down of existing infrastructure, with a rapid build-up of our clean energy and transportation systems. We are tasked now with building a new, sustainable, improved economy.

Local Government Aid: In this session and in the future I will continue to prioritize the Local Government Aid dollars needed to allow the city of Duluth to provide vital services while holding the line on property taxes. High-income earners state-wide must pay their fair share so that the burden of providing local services doesn't fall so heavily on struggling homeowners and those on fixed incomes. Duluthians need to know that services such as streets, sidewalks, clean drinkable water, parks, libraries, public safety, and other city services will remain reliable without their property taxes and utility rates increasing.


Alex Moe (R)

Did not respond to questionnaire.

State House District 3B

Mary Murphy
Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy (incumbent. DFL)

Age: 82

City of residence: Hermantown

Educational background: Bachelor's degree, College of St. Scholastica; Graduate studies at University of Minnesota Duluth, UW-Superior, Macalester College, Indiana University, SUNY, American University

Occupation: Former teacher: three years at Clover Valley and 33 years at Duluth Central High School.

Family: 7 nephews, 5 nieces, 22 great nieces and nephews, 3 sisters-in-law.

Experience: I was a union member and former vice president of the Duluth Area Central Labor Body. I have spent 46 years serving our region in the Minnesota House of Representatives including being the chief architect of Minnesota's 2020 Infrastructure Jobs bill that created an estimated 27,540 living wage jobs while making historic investments to help our communities by addressing critical infrastructure needs for drinking water and wastewater facilities, economic development, higher education, natural resources, public safety, affordable housing, veterans' homes, and transportation including roads, bridges, airports, ports and rail.

Why are you running? To continue to serve the residents of our region and finish the incomplete work of the 2021-22 legislative session including passage of a robust statewide infrastructure/bonding bill with critical Northeast Minnesota projects and a tax bill that removes state taxes on social security income, and to provide funding for education, health care, and public safety. We cannot leave the most pressing needs of our community undone.

Top three issues facing your district? 1. Funding education on all levels. I have supported full-service community schools which have shown so much promise. Minnesota's educators, students, and parents need support, so all our children receive a quality education.

2. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities — they provide opportunities to work and raise a family and give a choice for our children to stay in northeastern Minnesota. We need to provide the community assets that support these businesses and help attract workers including investing in workforce training, broadband, affordable housing, and access to childcare.

3. Protecting and using our land, water, air, and natural resources is essential. Significant to our region is timber, taconite, tourism and technology.

Plans to address those issues? As a lifelong resident of District 3B, I have learned a good leader is a good listener. I have built my legislative successes by listening to constituents and closely collaborating with local communities. I will hold constituent listening sessions on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings in January and February 2023 so we can work to find solutions and improve our region together. The 2023 legislative session will see significant membership turnover because of redistricting and resignations. I have earned the respect of my colleagues and work across party lines to reach consensus. Now more than ever we need this type of leadership that brings people together and gets results.


Natalie Zeleznikar
Natalie Zeleznikar

Natalie Zeleznikar (R)

Age: 56

City of residence: Fredenberg Township

Educational background: Bachelor's degree in health care administration, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Family: I grew up on a farm, and graduated from St. Francis Public Schools, where my dad was my middle school principal and my mom was a bus driver. I have been married 30 years, and I have two grown sons, and a daughter-in-law.

Experience: I have been a nursing home administrator owner/operator for the past 30 years. After years of creating person-centered care models, our settings are at risk of closure due to heavy-handed regulations, gaps in funding and severe labor shortages. The staff are burned out and, quite frankly, so are many citizens.

Why are you running? I am running because the line in the sand has been drawn. I, like many Minnesotans, want a future for the next generations that makes common sense "common" again. I will fund the police, not defund the police, which led to increased murder rates and increased violent crime. Northeastern Minnesota has tremendous potential; to strengthen business relationships with schools for entrepreneur/workforce mentorships and greater trade involvement, building homes, childcare incentives, and regulatory reform to stop the heavy-handed regulations that drive employees away from working in childcare and healthcare. Let's bring respect back to education, healthcare, childcare and police.

Top three issues facing your district? Mental illness has increased, loneliness and depression have increased, and as humans we can never again be kept from each other for years or months. After breast cancer and 8 surgeries, I know all too well the support one needs with trauma, cancer, surgery or simply becoming a new mom. Many seniors died alone due to mandates stating no visitors. Family members stood outside with their hands on frozen windows as their loved ones died alone. Confused elderly residents were denied the dignity of a death surrounded by loved ones. I held a a Catholic funeral in the parking lot to attempt to offer some normalcy for grieving families.

Businesses create job opportunities. We all feel the pain with record high prices at the gas pump, grocery store, record high property taxes with escalating home values, lack of childcare, lack of housing, higher rent prices and concern of high winter fuel costs. We need to deliver tax relief to struggling citizens and families, by supporting lower taxes; including eliminating the social security tax. We need to have policies that support energy independence, with no increases to the gas tax. As an entrepreneur and small business owner, I know what it takes to build a business.

Our kids deserve programs to close the gaps in learning following a loss of in-school learning. Let's assure the pledge of allegiance, civics, history, math, reading and science are the cornerstone of education. Let's assure audit programs happen so $250 million is never again fraudulently stolen through the Minnesota Department of Education.

Plans to address those issues? Leaders lead, and create an environment. Minnesota leaders failed us. We can and should do better. After 46 years, it is time for a fresh leader. I have signed a pledge to honor term limits for myself. As a trusted leader with a proven track record serving seniors, I will support initiatives which are concerning in our district such as: Initiatives which create jobs and a strong economy to foster strong communities while assuring a funded police department; Initiatives to promote and strengthen childcare and senior care providers and employees; Initiative to lower taxes so individuals and families have more money in their pockets.


State House District 8B

Becky Hall
Becky Hall

Becky Hall (R)

Age: 59

City of residence: Duluth

Educational background: Bachelor's degree in international relations/Soviet studies, Russian language, University of Minnesota

Occupation: Former economic development specialist, community volunteer/activist

Family: Husband, Dr. Patrick Hall; 5 adult children: Reagan, Kjerstyn, Allison, Annika and Kristian, ages 21-29

Experience: I worked for U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz in Washington, D.C.; as a legislative researcher at the State Capitol; in economic development for the state of Minnesota. I participated in the Humphrey Institute Policy Fellows program and received certification as an economic development finance professional through the National Development Council. I'm a graduate of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce "Duluth Leadership" program, as well as a member of many local community boards and organizations.

Why are you running? I'm running for office because Duluthians can no longer afford to have the same old thinking about government creating new programs and handouts that unfortunately don't get funded by wishful thinking, They get funded by hard-working families in my community who shouldn't have to send so much money to the state after paying higher costs for their housing, groceries, utility bills and gasoline for their vehicles. Citizens deserve a representative who respects that hard-earned dollar and wants it in their pocket instead of the state's coffers.

Top three issues facing your district? 1. Economy 2. Public safety 3. Energy/mining.

Plans to address those issues? In addition to protecting Duluthians' tax dollars, three major areas of my focus will be on: increasing public safety and giving our brave law enforcement professionals the tools to keep us and themselves safe; supporting development of proven, homegrown energy resources; and on removing roadblocks that hinder job creation and support efforts that grow our economy.


Alicia Kozlowski
Alicia Kozlowski

Alicia Kozlowski (DFL)

Age: 34

City of residence: Duluth

Educational background: Bachelor's degree in history, University of Minnesota Duluth; Master's degree in business administration, College of St. Scholastica

Occupation: Community Relations Officer, City of Duluth's Executive Leadership Team

Family: I live with my partner Samantha and my fierce daughter, Kat, age 8, in the Hunter's Park neighborhood of Duluth.

Experience: With the City of Duluth, I've worked alongside green energy experts to implement Duluth's Climate Crisis Plan, connected community members to COVID-19 relief, and supported entrepreneurs at all stages, to name a few projects. From serving as the Community Relations Officer for Duluth to working on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives state legislation, I've built the skill to represent Duluth and work together to drive home the community-led solutions we need.

Why are you running? This campaign is a direct response to community calls for me to run after our first ever female legislator in this district, Jen Schultz, decided to seek higher office. I'm running to be the next representative in the city I was born and raised in to ensure everyone has the opportunity to thrive. My roots in Duluth and our communities run deep. I am the child of a Mexican father who worked as a union electrician and an Ojibwe mother, who, with an eighth grade education, worked as a housekeeper and child care provider. I was raised by my fiercely strong grandmother who was a hospital nutrition worker-turned educator.

My grandmother showed me how to trailblaze through any obstacle, something I've done as both a first-generation graduate from UMD and as the first Latina-Ojibwe and Two-Spirit person to serve on the Executive Leadership Team in the City of Duluth's history. I will use my experience harnessing local, grassroots efforts to directly influence, write, and shape both local and statewide policy.

What are the top three issues facing your district? An economy that works for working families. Too many community members are making tough choices between paying rent, utilities, and putting food on the table. With the necessary courage and leadership, we can co-create policy that serves us all such as universal childcare and fully-funded education.

Protecting our environment: Protecting the earth, our home, is core to my being. As a State Representative, I will hold corporations that seek to harm our environment accountable and I support Prove It First legislation. I'm proud to have the endorsements of Duluth for Clean Water, The Sierra Club, Friends of the Boundary Waters, Clean Water Action, and the DFL Environmental Caucus.

Affordable healthcare for all: My adoptive dad is a proud veteran who suffered severe cardiovascular disease from his two tours of duty in Vietnam. I sat with him as he fought to "prove" he should get health care he desperately needed. No one should have to prove why they need health care.

What are your plans to address those issues? It is my life experience that informs the way I do the work, and that deeply matters. I know the greatest challenges residents of our community face, and I also know what it is like to overcome those challenges and help others along the way. Too often passion and integrity are pitted against experience, but I'm proud to bring both. My tangible skills of working with over 500 Northland businesses, shifting systems and resources to better serve students, creating Duluth's first Climate Action Plan, helping small businesses stay afloat and even grow during the pandemic, engaging thousands of community members and cultivating local and state-wide networks at the Capitol will ensure my success as an effective leader for these times. My approach is collaborative and rooted in relationships. The answers to our collective challenges lie in the strength of our own communities.


State House District 8A

Art Johnston
Art Johnston

Art Johnston (R)

Age: 71

City of residence: Duluth

Educational background: Bachelor's degree in civil engineering

Occupation: Engineer

Family: Widower, single parent, two children, two stepchildren

Experience: Served on the Duluth School Board for two terms

Why are you running? For government accountability and to remove the current representatives who are socialists, anti-mining, anti-energy and anti-working.

What are the top three issues facing your district? Inflation, the DFL stoppage of Twin Metals mine and Keystone Pipeline, failing schools in Duluth and Minnesota.

What are your plans to address those issues? Encourage energy production by permitting the Keystone Pipeline; encourage mining in our Iron Range where we have environmental controls and labor unions; and encourage charter schools and parental choice where they can decide where to send their children with parents receiving state education money.


Liz Olson
Liz Olson

Liz Olson (incumbent, DFL)

Age: 41

City of residence: Duluth

Educational background: Bachelor's degree in sociology; Master's degree in congregational and community care

Occupation: Legislator

Family: Daughter (6), husband, cat (18)

Experience: During my time in office I have delivered for our community with investments in childcare, mental health, infrastructure, cleaning up the St. Louis River estuary, and nation-leading legislation to combat the opioid epidemic. I have earned the trust of my colleagues serving as Deputy Majority Leader and Speaker Pro Tempore. My experience lies in engaging and mobilizing diverse groups of people, especially those often left out of the political process, to shape policy solutions at the state and local level. My career has included advocacy for access to healthcare, worker protections, and ending homelessness.

Why are you running? I love serving as your state representative. Together we can continue to address the challenges of this moment: climate change, strengthening our democracy, addressing gun violence and protecting access to reproductive health care.

Top three issues facing your district? Economic Issues such as affordable childcare, and paid family and medical leave; healthcare, including mental health care and reproductive health care; infrastructure, including our roads, bridges and water.

Plans to address those issues? I have been effective at the State Capitol. I will continue to build on those successes and relationships to deliver for our community. I am committed with the help of everyone I represent to work towards a Minnesota where we all can thrive.


St. Louis County Sheriff

Jason Lukovsky
Jason Lukovsky

Jason Lukovsky

Age: 50

City of residence: Fredenberg Township, Duluth

Educational background: Graduate of Denfeld High School and the University of Minnesota Duluth, with a bachelor's degree in criminology

Occupation: Deputy sheriff of St. Louis County

Family: I am a lifelong St. Louis County resident. My wife, Tami, a longtime public school teacher, and I have been married 24 years. We have a son, 15, and a daughter, 13.

Experience: I have worked for the Sheriff's Office for 24 years. I am currently the county's undersheriff, meaning second in command. During my tenure, I have achieved every promotable rank within our organization.

Why are you running? I have dedicated myself to this organization throughout my entire law enforcement career. Having worked, or supervised, in every division of the Sheriff's office, I understand the statutory responsibilities this position requires. As the current Undersheriff, I have successfully been serving in many of the roles that I would hold as Sheriff. I have had tremendous support and encouragement from all of the staff that I would be leading. The citizens of St. Louis County are deserving of a qualified candidate.

What are the top three issues facing your county, and how do you plan to address them?

  1. The opioid/heroin epidemic is a major issue countywide. Overdose numbers for 2022 are projected to be at an all-time high. My current support of dedicating resources to the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Offender Task Force is one step in the enforcement process. The comprehensive approach in dealing with this issue requires additional focus on the prevention, education and intervention with persons struggling with substance use disorders. Involvement by community partners is critical in the expansion of treatment and recovery support resources, post-incarceration.
  2. Recruitment and retention of staff is a concern among all divisions of the Sheriff's Office. The perception of law enforcement, post-George Floyd, has resulted in a diminishing applicant pool and less commitment to enter the field. Organizationally, we need to advocate for and reinforce public trust during our interactions with citizens and be creative with compensation packages, which incentivizes the retention of current staff and offers an attraction to new candidates.
  3. Mental health-related calls for service are an additional burden to our fire, EMS and law enforcement responders within St. Louis County and resources are being consumed unnecessarily. The current Clarity project initiative within St. Louis County has been instrumental in guiding us through the process of alternative response models and understanding the benefits of involving behavioral specialists to assist those experiencing a mental health crisis.


Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay

Age: 50

City of residence: Duluth

Educational background: Bachelor's degree in criminology and sociology from University of Minnesota Duluth and a master's degree in management from the College of St. Scholastica

Occupation: Law enforcement

Family: Married 25 years with two children ages 12 and 15

Experience: 29 years policing experience including 16 as police chief

Why are you running? I am concerned about increasing crime throughout the county, significant staffing shortages and the need to strengthen relationships with many throughout the county. I see a continued lack of accountability for criminals and county residents being victimized over and over and I want to change it. The current sheriff's administration has prohibited law enforcement officers from jailing misdemeanor offenders (except when required by state law) and it is leading to an increase in crime and disorder. Additionally, the sheriff's office is quashing (voiding) misdemeanor warrants, leading to further lack of accountability and lawlessness in parts of the county. Police officials who are struggling with reducing crime were not aware of this practice that has been going on for over two years and have never been informed.

I want to be a sheriff for all of St. Louis County as too often I hear from law enforcement leaders on the Iron Range that they do not know the sheriff or undersheriff, receive little to no communication and feel forgotten. We have a significant and growing drug problem in our county and we need a sheriff who can bring people together to improve drug education, prevention, treatment and effective enforcement to turn the tide.

Currently, 911 and the jail are part of the sheriff's office and they are hemorrhaging staff and in crisis. Mandatory overtime shifts, lack of a strategic recruiting and a retention plan are leading to poor morale and retention problems. This crisis is only worsening and we need a proven and experienced leader who can successfully address these issues.

Additionally, many volunteer fire and EMS workers want to see changes to dispatching protocols and their requests to the sheriff administration have fallen on deaf ears. I want to work with our public safety agencies to ensure our dispatch practices and policies work to keep everyone safe in a truly collaborative effort. Relationships are important and in many areas of the county people feel frustrated and forgotten by the current sheriff's administration.

What are the top three issues facing the county and how do you plan to address them?

  1. Reducing crime and illegal drugs in St. Louis County is my No. 1 goal. Two drivers of crime are a result of the sheriff's office ban on police officers jailing misdemeanor arrests and the secret practice of voiding misdemeanor warrants. I will end both of these practices immediately. We will strengthen relationships with probation and law enforcement leaders to target drug dealers who are flooding the area with drugs. I will schedule regular meetings with public safety agencies to share crime information and work together to target offenders using data. I will stand strong to ensure criminals are held accountable and victims receive justice by working closely with advocacy groups, local and federal prosecutors and community members. During my time as Duluth Police Chief, we reduced serious crime 14%.
  2. We overly rely on the criminal justice system to address mental health and chemical dependency issues. The county jail has become the mental health institution of the past. For decades I've partnered with other entities to decouple law enforcement from mental health calls. Years ago we partnered with the county to create the first police-embedded social worker in the state and as sheriff I will continue to advocate for additional resources and work hard on solutions. As sheriff I will advocate for more resources for mental health, stand up to ensure the criminal justice system does not continue to be the de facto mental health provider and seek alternative responses other than law enforcement for someone in crisis whenever possible.
  3. 911 communications and the county jail are part of the sheriff's office and they are hemorrhaging staff, causing forced overtime, poor morale and low retention. This staffing crisis desperately needs a strategic recruiting and retention plan. Law enforcement applications are also down and we need leadership who will stand up for public safety, support them and encourage good people to look at the many options in this career field. I have extensive leadership experience in this arena and more than doubled applicant numbers in four years at my last department and with input from others we will build a strategic recruiting and retention plan at the sheriff's office to bring in the best and brightest — and retain them. Having successfully addressed recruiting and retention issues previously, we will first conduct a comprehensive review of hiring practices, compensation and benefits and other variables to ensure we are putting our best foot forward. We will also review retention and training programs and ensure we are focused on retaining those we invest so much in and rely on for community safety.


St. Louis County Board District 6

Matt Matasich
Matt Matasich

Matt Matasich

Age: 62

City of residence: Virginia

Educational background: University of St. Thomas

Occupation: Retired

Experience: Former IRRRB Board Member, Former Virginia city councilor

What are the three biggest issues facing your county? I am running to split St. Louis County, unify the Iron Range under the new county, then take the State of Minnesota to court to break all prior agreements in the distribution of taconite production tax revenue. The state has ripped off the taconite-producing local civic authorities.

Keith Nelson
Keith Nelson

Keith Nelson

Age: 64

City of residence: Lifetime farmer and resident of Fayal Township.

Family: Married for 44 years to my bride and best friend, Lois; three adult children, and four grandchildren, all living and working here in St. Louis County.

Occupation: Former steelworker and businessman for 43 years.

Why are you running? To continue the good work of and along with my fellow commissioners on the St. Louis County Board. For the first time in the history of St. Louis County, northern commissioners have a clear majority, and we are getting things done outside of Duluth.

What are the three biggest issues facing your county? Taxes, maintaining our infrastructure, and continuing to provide valuable services in our community.

What are your plans to address those issues? Regarding taxes: Working to control property tax increases even while our state sits on record high surpluses and continues to direct more unfounded mandates to county government and your property tax dollars; control unnecessary spending and foster more efficiency in the delivery of services.

Regarding maintaining our infrastructure: In 2022 alone, investing nearly $100 million in road and bridge projects, expanding and modernizing our regional landfill, and updating three public works building, all outside of Duluth, and all done with project labor agreements, keeping our local craftsmen and women working here in our community.

Regarding service delivery: My pledge to you is to continue to work on customer service in all areas of county government, making county government work for you, not the other way around.

St. Louis County Board District 1

Duluth resident Annie Harala is running unopposed.