Skip to main content

PolyMet, steel mining pose big questions for today's election in NE MN


Voters in House District 3A – the state’s largest, spanning 230 miles in northeastern Minnesota – will go to the polls to pick a new state representative following the death of former Rep. David Dill over the summer.

There are three candidates:

  • Independent Kelsey Johnson (a political newcomer and lobbyist)
  • Republican Roger Skraba (the former mayor of Ely and former DFLer)
  • Democrat Rob Ecklund (a Koochiching County commissioner, who won the DFL primary back in late September)

Results will be posted Tuesday night here on the Secretary of State's website.

Mining a big focus

Mining, of course, is at the top of many people's minds, and there are two large prongs to it right now.

First, what will happen with the controversial proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in the district. That was the main topic for Ecklund in his primary battle to be the DFL candidate, and he's called himself "100 percent pro-mining." (Meanwhile a fellow DFL hopeful who was anti-copper mining finished second).

The Republican Skraba is vocal on Twitter about his support for the mine, which is in the midst of a continued lengthy review process after a DNR review found it would not pollute the Boundary Waters.

And Johnson has said that issue is over, and it's time to make sure it's done right while focusing on what's next, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

The second prong is the current state of the steel industry, which is in a downturn – resulting in hundreds of layoffs in the region.

The Duluth News Tribune asked the candidates about that (and a few other topics), and here's a brief summary of their responses:

  • Ecklund said he wants to encourage regional construction projects to buy locally-made steel.;
  • Skraba blamed the financial issues partly on regulation, which he said makes it expensive to do in Minnesota;
  • and Johnson pitched growing the types of jobs available by promoting more small business measures.

KBJR has a video conversation with all three candidates – check it out here or embedded below.

This embed is invalid

The winner of the Dec. 8 special election will finish out the rest of Dill’s term, which runs through the end of 2016.

Next Up

Kirill Kaprizov

2nd period surge leads Wild to fourth straight win

With three goals in the second, the Wild blasted the last-place Coyotes.

Gopher Basketball / R.J. Stephens

Late-tip in helps Gophers pass first big test, improve to 6-0

Luke Loewe's bucket with 2.4 seconds remaining helped the Gophers stay undefeated.


Man, 40, found dead stuck in air duct at his Otter Tail Co. home

The discovery was made by family members Monday morning.

Biden Minnesota visit stream screengrab - 11.30.31

What Biden said during his visit to Minnesota Tuesday

The president spoke at Dakota County Technical College.

Grand Marais

Cook County registers its first COVID-19 death of the pandemic

The sparsely populated, highly-vaccinated county has continuously had one of the lowest rates of COVID in the state.

Waits family screengrab CNN

Support for MN family after anti-maskers target child of school board chair

An online group opposing Kelsey Waits outed the child as transgender.

Pixabay - school - classroom

St. Paul schools add 2 days to winter break due to pandemic stress

The added days off are meant to acknowledge the stress the pandemic has caused.

Fardoussa Abdillahi

Charges: St. Cloud mother killed baby, placed him in dumpster

The 4-month-old baby was found by officers on Sunday morning.


1 dead in crash at Lake Street intersection in south Minneapolis

There have been 465 deaths on Minnesota roads this year, according to the state's traffic division.


St. Paul restaurateur's businesses burglarized a 6th time

The owner of The Gnome and Hope Breakfast Bar is asking politicians to help St. Paul business owners.

North Memorial Air Care

Teen suffers life-threatening injuries in head-on crash in southern MN

The 18-year-old was airlifted to a Mayo Clinic hospital in Rochester.

foo fighters grohl mr rossi wikimedia

Foo Fighters abruptly cancel Gophers stadium show hours after announcing it

The band is looking for a new venue because of a disagreement over COVID protocols.