Editorial: New lawmakers, and a new era of cooperation? We sure hope so
If one follows national news or even paid attention to what occurred statewide and regionally during the recently completed election season, the impression was crystal clear.
Democrats and Republicans were more than the Hatfields and McCoys; they were all but mortal enemies and diametrically opposed on nearly everything.
Yet that was clearly not the case Monday at the Grand Ely Lodge, where our two legislators - Sen.-elect Grant Hauschild (D) and Rep.-elect Roger Skraba (R), sat side-by-side at the annual meeting of the Ely area’s economic development joint powers board.
They didn’t need a referee, nor boxing gloves, and in fact seemed to agree on nearly every topic that came up during the meeting.
It was surprising, and in many ways refreshing, given the current state and national political climate.
Both Hauschild and Skraba seem all-in on helping the Ely area on numerous issues, from finding more money to complete the school district’s over-budget facility project, to extending unemployment benefits for laid-off Northshore Mining workers, to finding solutions in the areas of housing and rural broadband.
Hauschild has already shown that he will buck some in his party with his stance on ending the tax on Social Security income, and
Skraba is sure to ruffle feathers in the Republican ranks if he continues to support hikes in funding to programs such as local government aid and county aid, which are key cogs in the budgets of the city of Ely and St. Louis County and play a major role in the property tax levies of each.
And despite their allegiance to opposing parties, Hauschild and Skraba talked openly and willingly of working with each other to help the Ely area and their constituents.
We hope, and in many ways expect, that this will keep up once the rubber hits the road and the session begins next month in St. Paul.
Surely, both will be pulled by their respective party stalwarts to toe the party line. Both Hauschild and Skraba are likely to be cajoled, schmoozed and perhaps threatened to follow their ranks and vote against the interests of their communities.
We saw this particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, when some rural DFL legislators defied common sense and backed Gov. Tim Walz far too long in supporting his emergency powers, overzealous restrictions and shutdowns, and even voting against a proposal that would have allowed outdoor high school graduation ceremonies in the spring of 2020.
On the flip side, any Republican representing Ely needs to know the importance of local government aid and what it means to rural local governments, despite what Republican leaders have to say.
A government where each side votes in lockstep is not good government, and politics are clearly not as cut and dry as what can be fit on one of those numerous fancy color flyers that filled our mailboxes during the election season.
It’s a new era in Ely and on the Iron Range, with the days of 100 percent representation by Democrats, and only Democrats, a thing of the past.
That requires change, new ideas, new perspective and a new approach to get things done. There are indeed challenges, but avenues of opportunity as well.
For the first time ever, Ely is represented in both huddles and both political camps in St. Paul.
Hauschild and Skraba seem to understand that and appear willing to form new coalitions to best represent their area.
Monday’s meeting showed they’re off to a good start, and we hope that spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship only gets stronger once the real work begins, and the push to ally with party interests gets stronger, next month.