Governor-elect Walz visits Silver Bay
Gov.-elect Tim Walz met with Lake County constituents Monday, Dec. 3, at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Silver Bay as part of his five-day, 24-stop "One Minnesota" statewide listening tour.
The Grand Room of the Vets Home was standing room only as it filled with residents from around Lake County for the 8 a.m. session.
Walz spoke about his goals and attitude as incoming governor before turning the session over to comments and questions from the crowd.
"When I say, 'One Minnesota,' that doesn't mean we're homogeneous, but that we can work across lines of differences," Walz said. "I'm not asking anyone to give up their core ideologies. There is strength in differences; there is strength in opinions. And we have a really unique opportunity with our divided government to promote bonds and compromises that last beyond the next administration."
Walz also focused on finding individuals to fill leadership positions in the executive branch. These commissioner positions were open for applications until Friday, Dec. 7. Walz said he was looking for "the best and brightest from all corners of Minnesota" to fill the roles and encouraged people to apply.
After about 15 minutes, the listening portion of the session began. Walz poised himself behind a table to take notes as residents addressed him on various issues.
The main issues raised by concerned residents were sulfide and iron ore mining, veterans affairs, and environmental education and education equity.
Regarding sulfide mining concerns, Walz said: "This is something we need to figure out how to strike the proper balance. We have a responsibility to be stewards of our lands and keep them safe and clean, yet if there is a way to mine safely and meet all rigid regulations, then we should remain open to the possibility."
Walz also supported the idea of visiting Northshore Mining in Silver Bay in the future.
Several veterans commented on veterans affairs issues, including vets dealing with Agent Orange-related health complications and a suggestion to add more assisted living spaces to vets homes across the state.
Lake Superior School District School Board member Al Ringer brought up state funding for education to Walz, who as a former teacher, had a lot to say on the subject.
"We need to focus on equity education funding. Your education quality should not be dependent on your zip code," Walz said. "Past politicians bragged about cutting taxes, but when doing so, they also shifted education funding to rely more on property taxes than state funding. If we allow education to be predicated on property tax alone, we'll suffer the consequences."