Salerno seeks another term

by Tom Coombe

Frank Salerno’s third stint as Ely’s mayor has easily been his most tumultuous.<BR><BR>Shortly after Salerno took office in 2003, a city council resolution opposing the U.S. military invasion of Iraq created a furor, divided the community, and resulted in widespread publicity.<BR><BR>Since then, the council has dealt with a string of difficult budget issues, including the elimination of Ely’s emergency dispatching service, created largely by reductions in state aid.<BR><BR>But Salerno said last week that hard times haven’t quenched his urge for the job.<BR><BR>When filings for this fall’s city elections open this week, Salerno intends to seek another two-year term in office.<BR><BR>“We’ve got a lot of irons in the fire,” said Salerno, who served as mayor twice during the 1990s and also spent two terms on the city council. “We’ve gone through some pretty hard times. It’s always been an honor to serve this community and I feel that I still have some work to do. I’m very involved in many things.”<BR><BR>And though Salerno wants another two years in office, it looks as if he’ll have some competition for the job.<BR><BR>Mark Haarman, a member of the city’s planning commission, announced last fall that he would run for mayor.<BR><BR>Former city council member Roger Skraba, who ran unsuccessfully for the Minnesota House of Representatives two years ago, is also angling toward a mayoral bid.<BR><BR>“If I was a betting guy, I would bet that my name will be on the ballot,” said Skraba, who was on the council from 1996-2002. “I think this community has to change. In my mind, we’ve been stuck for about four years. In my first few years on the council, I felt like we were getting things done, but the last two years I was frustrated that we weren’t doing anything.”<BR><BR>Filings for the 2004 race open Tuesday, and Salerno’s mayoral seat as well as the council positions now held by Paul Kess, Jerome Debeltz and Mark Zupec are up for grabs.<BR><BR>The incumbents - and any other city resident wishing to serve on the council - have between Tuesday and July 19 to throw their hat in the ring by filing at the city clerk’s office at City Hall.<BR><BR>The number of filings will determine if the city will hold a primary election, which would be held in conjunction with the state primary on Sep. 14..<BR><BR>Under a system approved by the council in 2000, the primary would be triggered if the number of candidates for any position equaled more than twice the number of the positions being filled.<BR><BR>At least three candidates, for example, would be required in order to force a primary in the mayoral race or the two-year council election. Seven candidates are needed in the four-year council race to hold a primary<BR><BR>Affidavits of candidacy will be accepted at the city clerk’s office during business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). To be eligible, a candidate must be a qualified voter of the City of Ely, at least 21 on the date of taking office (January, 2005), a U.S. citizen, and a resident of Minnesota for at least 20 days. A $5 filing fee is also required.<BR><BR>