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DFLers meet in Finland for 8th Congressional District candidate forum

As Minnesota's precinct caucuses grow closer, DFL candidates in the running for Chip Cravaack's 8th Congressional District seat stepped up their campaign efforts, which included a stop in Finland Friday night.

Former Duluth city councilor Jeff Anderson, former 6th District Congressman Rick Nolan of Crosby, and former St. Cloud area state Sen. Tarryl Clark met at the Clair Nelson Intermodal Transportation Center for a chance to win Lake County residents over.

The candidate forum was organized by the DFL parties of Lake, Cook, and St. Louis Counties. Candidates were each given three minutes to answer 10 questions from moderator Phil Arnold of Two Harbors.

Several of the questions focused on mineral rights and mining. All candidates agreed that while mining is an important employer for people living in the 8th Congressional District, the process towards creating new mines needs to be done slowly and with great care to the environment.

"I believe we can (mine safely), but we need to do it right," Anderson said. Anderson stressed that taconite, tourism, and timber were the three major employers of the area, and that each had to be balanced so that one industry does not negatively impact another.

Another question touched on the issue of the proposed Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness land swap. Rep. Chip Cravaack said in December he will introduce legislation ordering the U.S. Forest Service to conduct a land exchange with the state of Minnesota for nearly 87,000 acres of state school trust fund land locked inside the BWCAW.

Because there are restrictions against logging and motorized vehicles on land within the BWCAW, Cravaack says the land can't generate the money that it is supposed to in order to help the school fund.

Nolan did not immediately shoot down Cravaack's land swap proposal, but said all parties involved in the swap need to get together and talk about possible benefits and consequences before a land swap is hastily made.

Other questions touched on a variety of subjects such as Social Security, internet censorship, global warming, public spending, and local construction projects. One thing all candidates could agree on is that the political process needs to be changed.

Clark called for campaign finance reform and limits to spending on campaigning. She expressed her distaste over the fact that corporations can spend large amounts of money on political campaigns.

Anderson agreed.

"Corporations do not have the same rights as people," Anderson said.

While Clark and Anderson condemned campaign spending, Nolan stressed the importance of how often political officials meet. He feels that representatives should be meeting every single day to work out problems, instead of being out campaigning.

Minnesota's caucus elections will be held Tuesday. Republican caucus elections will be held at the Two Harbors Community Center. DFLers can vote at the Two Harbors High School or William Kelley High School in Silver Bay. For a complete listing of caucus elections locations, visit