City council candidates answer Ely Echo questions

Angela Campbell
Personal information -
Age 70 yrs. I attended the University of So. Dakota (communications) and University of Nebr. (architecture and design). I earned certificates from the Seasonal Park Ranger program at Vermilion Community College, Ely, Mn and non-profit management program at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Mn. I have lived in the Ely area for over 35 years and have been a resident of Ely for 17 years. I’m a mother of 2 adult children and have 5 grandchildren. I established the A.K. Campbell Development Company. Since moving to Ely I have been honored to serve the community as a member of severa local boards and committees including 3 city commissions (Ely Historical Preservation, Ely Housing and Redevelopment Authority). 5 community association boards and member of 8 civic organizations.
Why would you be an effective member of the Ely City Council?
Over the past 2 years I have attended regularly scheduled City Council, Study Sessions, Public Hearings and EEDA meetings. Also, Ely Historical Preservation Ely Utilities and Ely Housing and Authority and Redevelopment meetings. I have developed skills to make wise decisions as an elected city council representative. I understand the parliamentary procedures needed to navigate through the legislative process. I will uphold transparency and accountability to the Citizens’ of Ely!
Please share your thoughts on the council’s decision to sell the ECC building.
Words can not describe my disappointment regarding the sale of the ECC building. The 3 incumbents (H. Omerza, Albert Forsman and Dan Forsman) voted for the sale to the K. American Foundation.
Secrecy is Undemocratic - “Our system is premised on Citizen’s’ having information about their leaders and their intentions, so they can express consent or descent. For our city council to deny such basic information to citizens’, merely to satisfy their political whims, is inexcusable and should be unacceptable”!
The sale of the ECC was kept under a “Shroud of Secrecy” from the Citizens’ of Ely! Throughout the public sale and rezoning hearings the Citizens’ of Ely rallied against the sale and rezoning of the building. The ECC was built by “Miners and Loggers for their families and future generations”. I have not given up hope to once again see the ECC become the Historic Legacy of Ely’s Cultural Heritage! As an elected representative I will not tolerate deception and lies!
What if any role should the city of Ely take to spur economic development in the area, including proposed new mining projects?
There is presently an economic developer hired by the City of Ely to assist in economic development. As a council representative I will take a personal active role in attracting businesses to the city that would compliment the existing businesses and bring added jobs and revenues to the city. The city of Ely should continue to promote Broad Band Internet access. I understand how important mining is to most people in this city. I know the history and can appreciate the excitement of people who see the return of mining as a chance to bring greater prosperity to the area through jobs, tax base and increased businesses.
Please list at least one other idea or proposal you would advance during your term in office to improve city services, change how city government operates, or make Ely a better place to live.
I will apply all my time, attention, and life-long experiences and personal relationships to develop Ely into a 12 month conference center city. My vision for Ely is that the city would become a nationally and, even internationally, recognized first-class convention/conference center city. I want to facilitate the city school district, community college, hospital, businesses and churches, coming together o work on developing the conference venues, hospitality offerings, and businesses that would attract families and youth from far and wide. Main Street businesses being open year-round as the tourism industry in the city is increased and more jobs for city residents are added. Promotion of historic preservation as a community legacy and as a way to create jobs.

Dan Forsman
Personal information -
I’m 30 years old, I have a diploma in heavy equipment maintenance/ diesel mechanic from hibbing community college and graduated high school from Ely memorial high school. I am a heavy equipment mechanic at Arcelor Mittal Minorca mine in Virginia, MN. I have been married for 4 years to my wife Emily and we have a one year old golden retriever named Holley. I have been on projects committee, the telecommunication advisory board, and employee relations committee.
Why would you be an effective member of the Ely City Council?
I feel I am and can continue to keep Ely moving in a positive direction. I will continue to be a strong advocate for mining, logging, and technology to help ensure everyone wanting to live in our wonderful town has a way to make a livable wage, allowing our town to grow and be a sustainable tourist town at the end of the road.
Please share your thoughts on the council’s decision to sell the ECC building.
Being part of the decision, I feel this was a good option for the city. I would have loved to see the building as it was, being a place to gather and use as a public place but we have private businesses that have taken up that niche in town. The decision that was made seems viable and I wish them the best but we have many agreements on a timeline that would allow reentry if necessary to protect the city.
What if any role should the city of Ely take to spur economic development in the area, including proposed new mining projects?
The city of Ely does well from a city standpoint to spur economic development in the area. I think Ely supporting new businesses and current businesses is something we try hard to do and with the limited resources, being a small town, I think we do well. Getting a EEDA website developed would be a big help to people researching the area for developing a new business. Getting a reliable and affordable broadband service to the area will also be a big help to giving businesses the ability to survive in the digital world we live in.
Please list at least one other idea or proposal you would advance during your term in office to improve city services, change how city government operates, or make Ely a better place to live.
The trailhead project is still a very interesting project for me and I hope to see this project to completion. I also want to see the broadband project to completion. I would love to see the other projects come through including the mountain bike trails, skate park, and dog park if and when we can find funds to do them.

Albert Forsman
Personal information -
Age 51. Graduate of Ely High School and Anoka Technical College - Building Utilities Technician. Spouse: Bonnie Forsman. Children: Jamie (Jared) Boes, Kyle Forsman, Jake Forsman. Grandchildren: Emmett & Kira Boes. Director of Facilities at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, Certified Healthcare Facility Manager, Chief Boiler Operator, Secretary/Treasurer of the Arrowhead HealthCare Engineers Association. Ely City Council - Incumbent. Ad-Hoc Rep on the Ely Utilities Commission, Sanitation Committee, Budget Committee, Ely Area Broadband Coalition, Community Economic Development Joint Powers Board Alternate. St. Anthony’s parish member, Finance Council member, Knights of Columbus member
Why would you be an effective member of the Ely City Council?
Over the past four years I have listened and responded to the citizens of Ely. I have taken the time to research the issues we face. There have been times where I have had to make tough decisions that are not popular. These decisions have been based on the facts presented on the issues as opposed to what we may want to hear.
The fiduciary responsibilities of a councilperson is the most important part of the job. We must ensure a balanced annual budget while providing city services and properly maintaining our properties, equipment and utility infrastructure for the future. I try to be fiscally responsible while ensuring the long-term success of our small town.
Please share your thoughts on the council’s decision to sell the ECC building.
The decision to sell the Ely Community Center building was actually an easier decision than some might think. The whole reason I ran for City Council in 2014 was because I did not feel the Council listened to the citizens when it chose to move the library out of the CC. Without the library as an anchor tenant in the building, I am afraid the fate of the CC as a public building was sealed. We have marketed the building since the library moved out. There was some interest, but no prospective buyer emerged with a viable business plan that was willing to agree to our terms to protect the building - until the Yoons came along. I fully support the Yoons’ plans and welcome them to our community.
What if any role should the city of Ely take to spur economic development in the area, including proposed new mining projects?
The City of Ely has a vested interest in continued promotion of our community for economic development. All potential business and industry should be considered for its potential benefits to our economy. I believe in our current regulatory process for mine development and operation. Copper/nickel mining should be allowed to proceed through this process and be permitted when deemed appropriate through those authorities.
Please list at least one other idea or proposal you would advance during your term in office to improve city services, change how city government operates, or make Ely a better place to live.
I will continue to strive for improved infrastructure within our community. Streets, Water, Sewer, Internet Service and Electrical distribution all need to be upgraded. It’s true, city government moves slowly, but we must ensure it moves in the right direction.

Heidi K. Omerza
Personal information -
49 years old. married to Tom Omerza (President of Frandsen Bank and ISD 696 School Board Member) with 4 children: Elliot, Evan, Eric and Elizabeth. Our family is also hosting Finn Liesching, the Rotarian Foreign Exchange Student this school year. I graduated from Hamline University in 1991. I am stay at home mom, volunteer, and substitute teacher for ISD 696. I have been on the Ely City Council since 2007. The committees that I currently serve on include: League of MN Cities Board of Directors (and Executive Committee), Coalition of Greater MN Cities Board of Directors, Greater MN Partnership, Ely Economic Development Authority, Library Board, Parks and Recreation Board, Employee Relations, and Negotiations. Community participation includes: Hoop Club, Swim Boosters, Track Club, Incredible Ely and Dementia Friendly Community Group.
Why would you be an effective member of the Ely City Council?
I will continue to be an effective member of the Ely City Council. I have had the rare opportunity of being in Leadership positions in 2 State Boards that the City of Ely is intricately involved with. 4 years ago, I was the President of the Coalition of Greater MN Cities. Currently, I am the President of the League of MN Cities. This is a tremendous opportunity for Ely, as very few cities from around the state have “seats” at those board rooms and opportunities to connect with individuals and difference makers and influencers. I am committed to what is best for Ely and to be a team player. I come to meetings prepared. I am fiscally responsible. I have the ability to make the difficult decisions. I also recognize that there is much work to do. I will continue to move Ely forward.
Please share your thoughts on the council’s decision to sell the ECC building.
Ely is passionate about the Community Center. The Ely City Council cares a great deal about the Community Center, which shows in the way we crafted the stringent purchase agreement with the current buyers. We have had several interested parties, phone conversation and business plans over the Community Center over the last 4 plus years, with no offers to bring to the Council. It has been for sale a LONG time. When selling the Community Center, the Council went above and beyond the normal process and to hear public comment. The current buyers have fundraising goals that need to be met, or the city will retain ownership of the building. Lessons learned: Communication skills can always be improved, make it known when/where the city will communicate and WHAT can be communicated (there are times when we are not allowed). Fear is real and passion is real, try to anticipate that next time by explaining the process better and in writing, verbally and with a flow chart. Please know that I responded to calls and emails to individuals who reached out to me.
What if any role should the city of Ely take to spur economic development in the area, including proposed new mining projects?
I am the President of the Ely Economic Development Authority (EEDA). Business growth and retention are a priority. In a word…JOBS…are the priority. The council needs to take this to the next level, by re-examining housing stock, workforce demand/shortfall, and daycare regulations. I am dedicated to exploring any and all economic activities and goals, which we work diligently on. The Council continues to be “pro-business”, “pro-mining”, and with the proposed mining projects, the City needs to continuing planning and preparing infrastructure, as it does with other businesses. Many of these tasks we rely on our Economic Developer, John Fedo, to guide and direct us. I believe that the City needs to an provide the right environment and tools for businesses to thrive.
Please list at least one other idea or proposal you would advance during your term in office to improve city services, change how city government operates, or make Ely a better place to live.
Our family decided to live in Ely and then had our last child in Ely. The reason more I ran for council, remains the same now more than ever, working to keep Ely economically viable today and tomorrow. Ely continues to be a great place to live, work and play, this has never been clearer to me than this past month as I travel around MN as President of the League of MN Cities for their Regional Meetings.
Here are some of the ideas around “living”, “working”, and “playing”
• Housing stock study with future needs with rental needs and future aging population
• Faster, reliable, affordable, internet (BROADBAND)
• Workforce shortfall solutions
• Downtown revitalization on Chapman St and Central Ave
• Trails-motorized and non-motorized (Hidden Valley and Semers)
• Trezona Trail and strategically connecting it to downtown
• Buy Local Campaign
• Continue working with our partners organizations (Chamber, IRRRB, ISD 696, VCC, Joint Powers, IE etc.)
• City of Ely communication/information-work on social outlets and website enhancement possibilities
• Continue to educate students at ISD 696 about local Government
• Work with current Blandin Leaders to apply for our community leaders receive Blandin Leadership Community Training
• Engage and utilize our Arts Community to the fullest as an economic driver
• Optimize HAK Ely, TEN Below etc.
• Figure out a way to get a second baseball field in Ely
I am always open to more ideas! I am fortunate and honored to represent Ely. I thank you in advance for your vote and support on November 6th.