Steelworker Mark Larson joins 6A DFL race

Mark W. Larson

Mark W. Larson

Mark Larson announced late yesterday that he’ll run for the DFL nomination for House of Representatives in the central Iron Range 6A district. Larson is a Steelworker at Minntac who lives north of Chisholm. He’s also a woodworker, a former associate pastor at Hibbing Alliance Church and married father of three.

Larson lists four major issues in his reasons for running in his campaign announcement. The first is education.

I am a strong believer in lifelong learning. I also believe the state needs to better support students who are trying to better themselves and grow their skill sets through higher education. Education not only benefits the individual because of their higher likelihood of gaining a better job, it also benefits the community through the increased productivity and innovation in the economy that comes from a more highly skilled workforce.

Larson, a miner, also wants clarity for laid-off miners and a workable outcome for environmental regulations as they relate to current and potential future mines on the Iron Range.

I think it’s pretty ridiculous to leave laid off miners hanging and failing to extend unemployment benefits when they’re actually needed. I feel we need to be even more vocal in regards to steel dumping even though that’s really most effectively handled at a federal level. I also feel the state needs to settle on a solution for water and environmental standards so that local mines know exactly what they’re aiming for and can confidently move ahead on projects. I feel the standards should be high enough to protect our environment but that they shouldn’t be the constantly moving target they seem to have been for projects like Polymet. I favor finding ways to focus on standards that are proven to achieve real world desired outcomes rather than the sort of tougher for the sake of tougher regulations that seem to be the case now. We need to simply let these companies know which hoops to jump through and when they’ve jumped through them all let them actually get going on the work.

Larson also took on social problems, such as growing distrust between police and communities found in the national news.

I watch and hear about the problems between law enforcement and much of the public and it makes me feel flabbergasted at the distrust and accusations that flow both ways. I feel my time being a simple spectator to those problems has gone on too long. We need to somehow regain the social contract of mutual respect that the police and the citizens need in order to function in our society. I believe one of the best ways to make this happen is by increasing transparent accountability and by having incidences of potential police wrongdoing being investigated only by departments not associated with the officer being investigated. I believe revealing the investigative process, once it is complete, not only keeps law enforcement better accountable to the public, it also protects law enforcement from accusations of impropriety.

Finally, Larson indicates he’ll be an advocate for mental health and substance abuse programs.

I have witnessed firsthand many of the tragedies that can occur when these are left un treated or under treated. It not only effects the individuals suffering from them, they also affect their families and their communities as well. Both my wife and I spent a number of years working with the Occupational Development Centers to personally work toward helping individuals facing difficulties find the satisfaction and community that comes through employment. I believe these type of organizations need to be strengthened so that their role can grow. I also believe we need to continue to work at stopping addiction in our community before it begins.

State Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Chisholm) isn’t running for re-election. Yesterday, teacher Julie Sandstede announced she would also be running for the DFL nomination. Other names are likely to enter as well.

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