Date set for sit-down with legislators

by Tom Coombe -

The date is set for what’s known in Ely political circles as the annual “legislative” meeting.
State legislators Tom Bakk and Rob Ecklund, along with Congressional aides and representatives of other agencies, are scheduled to meet with local leaders in an event set for Monday, Nov. 26 at the Grand Ely Lodge.
Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. with a roughly two-hour meeting to follow.
The event is the continuation of a meeting convened for several years by the Ely Area Community Economic Development Joint Powers Board and the Ely Area Development Association.
While the joint powers group no longer contracts for economic development services, it meets quarterly to address local issues and the legislative meeting remains a focus point for the organization.
Leaders of local governments will be at the table to share their concerns and issues of interest - in advance of the 2019 legislative session - with both area legislators.
Representatives of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith as well as newly-elected U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber will be invited to take part.
An agenda will be finalized Tuesday, when Joint Powers Board members meet at 4 p.m. at City Hall.
While no items are yet set, local officials have pressed lawmakers to take the lead to bring affordable broadband, high-speed internet service to the Ely area.
Ely officials say the session provides an opportunity for the area to speak with one voice and highlight area priorities and bring an assortment of issues to the attention of the legislators.
Other area entities including Vermilion Community College, Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital and the Ely Chamber of Commerce have traditionally been represented at the event, and the session some times includes opportunity at the end of the agenda for public input.
Bakk, a Cook area DFLer, has represented the Ely area in the legislature since 1995 and leads Democrats in the State Senate.
Ecklund, also a Democrat, was elected to the State House in 2015, winning a special election to fill the seat held by the late David Dill. The native of International Falls was re-elected Tuesday to a two-year term.