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Skraba sworn in as Ely’s first state Representative

Roger Skraba sworn in as Ely's first State Representative
Photos by Nick Wognum

by Nick Wognum

The 2023 Legislature started at high noon on Tuesday with Ely’s Roger Skraba being sworn in as the Representative from District 3A.

Skraba is not only the first legislator from Ely, he’s also the first Republican to come out of this district.

It wasn’t an easy path to St. Paul as Skraba had to get through a recount to beat DFLer Rob Ecklund by 15 votes.

On Tuesday Skraba was still catching up to the other legislators, many of whom had been there for several weeks already.

Skraba was busy moving into his new apartment Tuesday morning, picking up some clothing and meeting with his Legislative Assistant in his office at just before 11 a.m.

Running late isn’t new for Skraba, but this time it wasn’t his fault.

The DFL controlled House did Skraba no favors, not allowing him and fellow Republican Natalie Zelesnikar access to events for freshman legislators until the recount was completed.

“If the DFL would’ve let me go through all of the formalities I’d be way far ahead. They wouldn’t let us do anything until Dec. 15 and then there was two holidays in there.

“I’m not even close to being ready. I think it’s going to be another two weeks before everything is in place,” said Skraba.

“For my office I have my moose head and a deer mount in there. I want a map of 3A framed and in front of my office I want to put a brochure rack with information from all the different communities, like the North Shore, Ely, Crane Lake. So if someone is going up north they can stop and grab one. That’s who we are so why not promote it.”

His office is located in the State Office Building across the road from the Capital and accessible by tunnel.

For those looking for his office, it is in room 221. His office phone is 651-296-2190 and his e-mail is

“I thought the swearing in ceremony was really good,” said Skraba. “I think there’s a feeling in the building looming that the Democrats are going to push hard. We have to come to grips with it in how we react.”

The DFL controls the House, Senate and the Governor’s office.

“You can see the dynamics of it. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Skraba. “The plan is they’re in charge.”

A bill is being introduced to provide extended unemployment benefits to laid off Northshore mining workers.

Newly elected State Rep. Roger Skraba (R) said he was approached by Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL) on the House floor prior to the opening session being called to order on Tuesday.

“Dave came up to me and asked me to be the first co-sponsor of the bill he had drafted,” said Skraba. “I was very happy to sign on to that one.”

The bill will extend the unemployment benefits another 13 weeks.

“We’re hoping to get that through as fast as we can. That’s going to be priority one to get it passed.”

Northshore has been idled since May 1 over a dispute between mine owner Cleveland Cliffs and Mesabi Trust, a company that receives mining royalties from the land where the ore is mined.

According to the Star-Tribune, Cliffs’ CEO Lourenco Goncalves has described the royalties as “absurdly high.”

The paper said the closure originally was going to last a few months, but Cliffs said it now is likely to continue for a year. Over 400 employees are now out of work.

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