SLC Commissioner Candidates Answer Tough Questions
Posted at: 09/17/2012 5:41 PM
| Updated at: 09/17/2012 10:52 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
Forums were held September 17 at the St. Louis County Courthouse allowing candidates running for the County Board of Commissioners to address several hot button issues. Copper-mining, the new property tax levy and jobs were at the focus of the questions addressed.
The first forum hosted District Two Incumbent Steve O'Neil and Candidate Becky Hall. The two candidates disagreed about supporting the copper-mining industry, more specifically the development of Polymet.
“We have opportunities in this region, mining being the backbone of it,” Hall said. “We need leaders who are going to stand behind that and support it, and say yes to those jobs.”
“At this time, I do not believe the science and technology supports the Polymet mine,” O'Neil said. “I am concerned, and heard from a lot of constituents, that we are concerned of the impact on the Saint Louis River and Lake Superior.”
The issue came up again during a forum featuring District 5 Commissioner Peg Sweeney and Candidate Pete Stauber, who is a Lieutenant for the Duluth Police Department.
“I support our being able to do it (copper-mining) and doing it right in Minnesota,” Sweeney said. “They come to us again and pass that initial EIS, I'll be ready to sign on.”
“These are jobs that will benefit the community for years,” Stauber said. “These aren't temporary jobs; these are permanent jobs for at least two generations plus.”
While mining was a hot topic, it wasn't the only issued discussed. The 2013 property tax levy was another issue candidates were questioned about. During the District 3 forum, with Commissioner Chirs Dahlberg and Candidate Debbie Isabell-Nelson, both agreed the preliminary levy is a success, but Dahlberg said the tax should be even lower.
“I think we've been a model of fiscal responsibility,” Dahlberg said. “I'm saying we can do better. I've actually made the legitimate proposals to my County Commissioners and I've made out challenges. I think we are going to work on that and move it from 1.5%.”
While Nelson agreed the increase was a good move by the board, she said it's informing the public that needs work.
“One of the things that would help folks across our county is if we had more transparency on what that money is being used for,” Nelson said. “I think that the transparency...will help people understand.”
Other issues discussed at the forums included the regulation of group homes and creating jobs.