RAMS becoming the vehicle to steer NE MN back to prosperity

We’ve been impressed with how the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools has gone from teetering on the edge of existence to becoming a strong voice for northeast Minnesota.
Just over one year ago the Ely city council was putting on the brakes of joining RAMS. The organization had made some questionable moves which led to people asking just what benefits RAMS provided in the first place.
Since then there has been a change in the make up of the board that governs the organization and a key move to hire an ambitious executive director.
Steve Giorgi has stepped up to the challenge and helped lead RAMS back to the forefront as a force to be reckoned with. He works with state and federal officials to inform them of the issues affecting the Range and he keeps local elected officials informed and involved in the political process.
Today RAMS is helping to lead the charge against the naysayers who condemn economic prosperity when it comes in the form of mining.
RAMS has been rediscovered as an all-important conduit for our local elected officials to join together to push for common causes. Copper-nickel mining has become the first issue the new and improved RAMS has grabbed onto and carried up the field.
There were 20 members of the RAMS board who sat down with Governor Mark Dayton on Friday to show it wasn’t just the Ely city council that believes Dayton is wrong in his efforts to kill the Twin Metals project.
Chisholm Mayor Mike Jugovich expressed his frustration as a father who will see his daughter graduate from Vermillion Community College this spring and have to relocate off the Range to find gainful employment.
Pat Medure, school board director from the Grand Rapids/Bigfork district reminded the governor of the inherent responsibility the DNR has to manage the permanent school trust fund lands for “long term economic benefit” and that projections for mining of precious minerals is anticipated to return $2.5 billion in 10 years of mining into that fund.
Board members from city councils, townships and school districts across the Range made the effort to show solidarity on the Twin Metals issue from those elected by the people.
This was in stark contrast to the results of DFL caucus votes against mining. The caucus system (and the parties themselves) are run by extremists and have lost the following of the majority of people who make up the voting public.
If the caucus results were actually representative of the people here, how in the world do pro-mining candidates continue to get elected in northeast Minnesota?
In the recent DFL primary, the Ely results tell the truth. There were four candidates, three pro-mining and one anti-mining. Tally up the votes and Ely went 77 percent for mining and 23 percent against.
This was pointed out by St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina when he spoke to the governor last Friday. He said 75 percent of Ely is pro-mining and that the caucus results were not representative.
RAMS officials, who represent 46 local government units, know this already. They know the people they represent and they know the economic issues plaguing Range communities.
That’s why they were sitting at the table with the governor, that’s why they are in St. Paul and Washington D.C. working to make the Range prosperous again.
RAMS has become a great political tool for Ely and the entire Iron Range. Just over one year ago, the Ely city council was looking to rescind its membership. Today RAMS is battling to help Ely and has one of our city council members at the helm with Paul Kess serving as president of RAMS.
The anti-mining crowd has had some success in fighting economic development and mining in northeast Minnesota. We think the tables have turned with RAMS and executive director Steve Giorgi leading the way. RAMS has regained its relevancy and become a very important organization again at just the right time.