Posted at: 12/10/2013 10:17 PM
Updated at: 12/10/2013 10:23 PM
By: Travis Dill
Duluth City Councilors Patrick Boyle and Jim Stauber described why they want to serve as St. Louis County Commissioner at a debate on Tuesday night.
The passing of Steve O'Neil left an empty St. Louis County Board seat, which his wife, Angie Miller, will fill until a special election is held next month. Council President Patrick Boyle hopes to live up to O'Neil's commitment to homeless people in the region.
“Those are huge shoes to fill, but I would love to get in there and be able to do the same things for folks in the second district,” Boyle said.
Duluth City Councilor Jim Stauber said his time as a street paramedic in the county gave him some understanding of the issue, and he wants to focus efforts.
“Truly I don't think we are ever going to end homelessness because some of these people don't want homes. They don't want the responsibilities. So our goal needs to be, for those who really need it and those who really want it, to work with them,” Stauber said.
Both candidates want to bring jobs to the county, but Boyle said the success of bringing aircraft maintenance company AAR to Duluth shows he can work with other leaders.
“That was a group effort not only the city and the county, but the state and just the success we had off that. So I really look forward to building on those relationships, and I think I'm the stronger candidate out of the two for that,” Boyle said.
Stauber wants to work with state leaders as well, but to help prevent the decline of the timber industry that is vital to the county economy.
“Some local people that work with timber and wood find it cheaper to import their timber from Europe, from Germany, than to buy just up Rice Lake Road, which is really sad,” Stauber said.
Each candidate said they support mining, but Boyle wants to see that Polymet can do copper-nickel mining while being environmentally responsible.
“This type of mining is new to the state of Minnesota and I think that is where a lot of the questions come up. I want to continue to keep that language open and go from there,” Boyle said.
But Stauber said technological advancements mean mining is no longer in conflict with the environment.
“This is 2013. We have seen huge changes in many things that we do in industry. We have cleaned the air. We've cleaned the water. We've cleaned our land and our hazardous waste, accountability and all those things,” Stauber said.
The special election will take place on Jan. 14, and county officials wanted to remind snowbirds and others to get absentee ballots turned in early.