House 5B Primary Candidate Commentary: Shelley Robinson

MinnesotaBrown offered a 600-word guest post to all the candidates in the House District 5B Special Election. The fourth in the series runs today with Shelley Robinson .

As a DFL candidate for Minnesota House District 5B, I want to introduce myself and share my perspective on the upcoming legislative session. My name is Shelley Robinson. I am an advocate for people with disabilities, a teacher, a union member (IFO), a community volunteer, a wife, a mom and a proud Iron Ranger.

It has been said that our number one export is our young people. That must stop. One of my top priorities will be to help bring jobs back to the Iron Range. My tenure as member of the IRRRB has given me valuable experience in economic development. It has taught me that creating jobs does not always mean trying to bring in a new industry that creates 50 jobs (though that often plays an important role and will with companies like Polymet).  Sometimes, it means expanding the capacity of already existing business to create 100 jobs right here, right now.  I believe we need to have a strong business base in order to have job growth and I believe that unions only strengthen that base.  IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich has emphasized the need for cooperation between business and labor in order to grow our Range economy. I strongly agree and have a history of working with both the chamber of commerce and organized labor in order to foster such cooperation.  I am the director of a large nonprofit organization that employees over 140 United Steelworker Union members. Together, we have been presented with awards from Congressman James Oberstar and the Iron Ranger Labor/Management Association for excellent cooperation between business and labor.

A major issue confronting Minnesota, as well as the rest of the nation, is health care.   Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. The Steelworkers fought long and hard to have healthcare included in their contracts and finally succeeded in their fight with the NLRB in 1952. I will continue that fight, to ensure that every Minnesotan has access to quality, affordable health care.

Minnesota is currently facing a 6 billion dollar budget deficit. The Republican-controlled legislature has made it clear that the health and human services budget is the first item on the chopping block. Senior citizens, people with disabilities, and the economically disadvantaged are in danger of losing their health care, housing, and support services. We cannot let this happen. This ‘slash and burn’ approach may look good to the public, but its effects are devastating…For example, those who have their health care programs cut have no alternative but to receive basic care in the most expensive way – in the emergency room – resulting in higher premium costs for everyone. This is a “lose-lose” situation for all involved; it hurts the economy and it hurts our workers.  After 20 years in the health and human services field, I have the expertise to ensure that this does not come about.  Now more than ever, it is critical for the legislature to make good policy decisions. Cutting services to our most vulnerable citizens in order to solve Minnesota’s budget crisis is simply unacceptable.

My years of community service have taught me the value of “caring for my neighbor.”  Whether it is serving on the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota, an economic development response team, the Chisholm Community Foundation, or a coat drive at my church – when people of the Iron Range have asked for help, I have always done my best to meet their needs. I will continue to do so in the legislature.   I am humbled to have the support of fellow residents of district 5B, Mayor Mike Jugovich of Chisholm and the venerable Veda Ponikvar.  I ask for your support as well. Together we can work to re-vitalize the Iron Range and show the rest of Minnesota what a wonderful place it is to live, work and play.

Other DFL candidates include Jeff Kletscher, Carly Melin, Ray Pierce Jr. and John Spanish. The Feb. 1 DFL primary winner will face Republican Paul Jacobson and IP candidate Cynthia Kafut Hagen in the Feb. 15 general election.


  1. Most feel strongly about helping thy neighbor, the question is whether we do it as individuals thru church and personal involvement or the government does it for us thru taxing. I, for one, don’t want my taxes going towards programs and non profits that I don’t agree with (planned parenthood and others). I hope those heartless GOP’ers do cut spending. We’re broke!! The days of free everything from state and government are over. We are all given an equal opportunity to make something out of ourselves, this idea of equal outcome for us all is crazy. Those of our community who are mentally or physically challenged, it’s our duty to help them, I’m all for that. That’s my “social justice” rant. My question to Shelley and all union backers is, how does being union BRING in jobs to the Range? K Edwards

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