Iron Range Rep. Carly Melin won’t seek re-election

Minnesota House District 6A covers Hibbing, Chisholm, Marble, Taconite, Nashwauk, Keewatin and Bigfork, as well as Floodwood in the south, along with many rural townships.

Minnesota House District 6A covers Hibbing, Chisholm, Buhl, Marble, Taconite, Nashwauk, Keewatin and Bigfork, as well as Floodwood in the south, along with many rural townships.

State Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) announced she would not seek re-election in 2016.

State Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) announced she would not seek re-election in 2016.

Today State Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) announced that she would not seek re-election to the House of Representatives.

Her announcement was a surprise to many, but those in politics knew the challenges she faced in balancing her job as a lawyer in Hibbing with a young family and legislative service.

Melin won a special election to replace Rep. Tony Sertich in 2011 and has been elected twice more since. She’s been a vocal supporter of the mining industry and unions during her tenure, while also championing the Women’s Economic Security Act and leading the fight for limited medical marijuana legalization two years ago.

Melin was only the second woman elected to serve a central Iron Range district. Rep. Lona Minne was the first, while former Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick represented portions of the far western Iron Range in her single term that also began in 2011. In countless meetings, even today, Melin was the only woman, and the youngest to boot. That’s tough sledding, and she deserves a lot of credit.

She writes:

I am proud of my work as a legislator, including increasing investment in Iron Range K-12 schools, securing funding for various infrastructure and community projects across the region, advocating for the less fortunate, and fighting for working and middle class Minnesota families. During my time as Chair of the IRRRB Higher Education Committee we’ve made important investments in programming for students attending our area community colleges. On a statewide level, I’m especially proud of having authored the Women’s Economic Security Act, the Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research Act, and the Criminal Records Expungement law. My public service has been dedicated to improving the quality of life of others and these accomplishments have attributed to that overall mission.

Melin’s departure opens up a House seat in the heart of the Iron Range at a time of great tumult in the local economy and political sphere. The 6A race will likely see a true donnybrook in the DFL primary.

I thank my family, friends, constituents, and colleagues for the support they’ve shown me throughout my six years in the House. By making this announcement now, I want to give those considering serving the Iron Range the time necessary to make their plans before precinct caucuses and the campaign season begins. Even as I make this announcement, I know my work–and term–is far from over. I look forward to the upcoming legislative session and plan to continue my focus on assisting Iron Range families who have been impacted by recent turmoil in the domestic steel market which in turn has impacted our taconite mining industry.

Melin was widely considered a rising DFL star when she was first elected. Unfortunately, this is another example of the hardship facing people with families who wish to serve in the legislature, especially in districts far from the Capitol.

Although I’ll exit public life when my term expires, I will always have a passion for serving the public and plan to continue doing so through other community involvement. For now, I look forward to focusing on my legal career on the Iron Range and spending more time with my family.

Melin and husband Zeb Norenberg have one child and they expect another later this year.

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