Freshmen House members prep for Iron Range visits

The Minnesota House freshman class this year, including DFL Aurora Rep. Dave Lislegard (front, center). A number have committed to visiting the Iron Range in an effort to better understand the region.

Jerry Burnes

Mesabi Daily News

ST. PAUL — Freshmen in the Minnesota House are gearing up for trip to the Iron Range as part of a coalition building effort aimed at better understanding issues across the state, their visits being organized by State Rep. Dave Lislegard, DFL-Aurora.

The incoming legislators were sworn in Tuesday and said they’re putting Gov. Tim Walz’s “One Minnesota” mantra into practice by visiting different districts and regions.

“If we really want to be One Minnesota, it starts here,” Lislegard said.

DFL Reps. Heather Edelson of Edina, Samantha Vang of Brooklyn Center, Jeff Brand of St. Peter and Tou Xiong of Maplewood have already committed to visit the Range.

“Looking forward to just learning about each other’s districts,” said Heather Edelson.

Walz, the first rural Minnesota governor in decades, ran on a One Minnesota platform with former metro area Rep. Peggy Flanagan on the ticket as lieutenant governor. The idea is to erase a rural-urban divide that grew across the state and came to a head during the 2016 election.

His first executive order created a council to promote diversity and inclusion in state government practices like recruiting, contracting and civic engagement.

“As we’re voting on legislation and other issues, it’s important to know other people we’re doing it with,” said Vang.

A visit to Range will entail a lesson the region’s mining industry, which has drawn mixed reactions from fellow Democrats in the past, while being largely supported by Republicans.

Some DFLers planning a visit, like Brand, are excited to get an idea of what different regions also want out of big picture issues like healthcare.

“There’s a lot of regional issues and every region has its own issues,” he said. This is a great opportunity.”


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