Ely mayoral race upended

Urbas withdraws from contest

by Tom Coombe
Ely no longer has a contested race for mayor.
Eric Urbas, a first-time candidate who hoped to unseat incumbent Chuck Novak, said Thursday that he’s withdrawing from consideration.
He cited health reasons in ending a candidacy he launched a little more than two months ago.
“I don’t want to take something on that I don’t know that I will be able to do,” said Urbas.
The decision leaves Novak as the only candidate in the race for mayor, which is elected every two years.
Novak is seeking a fourth term in his second stint as mayor. He also won the mayoral seat in 2006 but lost a re-election bid two-years later.
The race had already attracted considerable attention in town, with Urbas attracting prominent support and many backers wearing T-shirts touting his candidacy at the community’s July 4 patriotic march/parade.
But Urbas said the stresses associated with taking on Ely’s top political post don’t currently mesh with his personal health.
“In the whole scheme of it, nobody wants to fail,” he said. “If I did win, I’d be drowned out by this and not be able to help.”
Urbas, a 2007 graduate of Ely Memorial High School, said he filed for mayor in part because of his concern for his hometown’s future.
He had never run for office before but said he’s had an interest in politics since attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and engaging in classroom discussions on business and economics.
When announcing his candidacy in May, Urbas said “things are pretty stagnant” in Ely and added “I don’t know how things are going to progress in the future.”
The departure from the race makes for a quiet ballot in November, at least when it comes to city contests.
Novak is uncontested for mayor and a city council race includes only the three incumbents - Jerome Debeltz, Paul Kess and Ryan Callen.