The Two Harbors City Council held a special session on December 29th with Grant Hauschild and Natalie Zeleznikar, both newly elected to the Minnesota State Legislature.
Hauschild and Zeleznikar each express appreciation for the opportunity to meet with council members and indicated that not every community holds informational sessions with newly elected legislators. Such opportunities give legislators a valuable chance to hear first hand the concerns of those they are elected to represent. Senator Hauschild hails from Hermantown and will serve District 3. Representative Zeleznikar lives with her family in Fredenberg Township and will serve District 3B.
Both have impressive resumes. Hauschild has worked as an economic development specialist for the United States Department of Agriculture and more recently, for Essentia Health Foundation. He has also served on the Hermantown City Council. Zeleznikar decided to run for public office after a 40 year career in senior care that spanned the gamut from working as a Certified Nursing Assistant to working as an administrator in assisted living facilities. Both have a passion for public service and have had their political aspirations shaped by their experiences in both the private and public sectors.
Hauschild stated that he will be focusing much of his time on issues related to taxation, education and housing. He indicated that he would like to see funds from the $17 billion State surplus used to further fund public education, support affordable housing development and reduce Social Security taxes for senior citizens.
Zeleznikar indicated that her focus will center on increasing funding for mental health, elder care and workforce housing. She expressed concern for the negative impact of over regulation by the government and will work toward policies that bring property tax relief so that people don’t get priced out of their homes. She would like to see some of the surplus money put into improving healthcare, particularly when it comes to facilities that provide care to seniors.
Both Hauschild and Zeleznikar expressed concern about the dysfunctional, hyper partisanship that has shaped our recent political environment. They each stressed the importance of being willing to work across the political aisle to serve all of the people of their districts.
Members of the City Council shared their desire to get legislative help related to the Two Harbors waterfront property transfer, cleanup and development. There was also discussion about the funding shortfall for the MDOT Highway 61 project and the possible impact that having to draw the project out beyond the proposed two year period could have on area businesses. The Council is requesting that MDOT’s portion of the project be fully funded so that the work is not delayed. These concerns are not Democrat or Republican issues. They impact all of us and legislative support from Saint Paul will be important to address these concerns.
The statewide housing shortage was also discussed at length. Two Harbors, like many areas in Minnesota, is facing a severe housing shortage that impacts the ability of local businesses to hire and house workers. There is a significant shortage in senior housing as well. The City HRA is working on a project to bring 50 senior housing units to the community. This project is expected to free-up existing homes which can, in turn, be used to meet workforce housing needs. Funding for this work is being sought through various programs and the Council asked for legislative support with continued and expanded funding so that Two Harbors can continue to grow and prosper.
Members of the City Council will be traveling to Saint Paul in February to meet further with legislators and lobby for these and other issues of importance to the community of Two Harbors. As citizens, our voices are also important. Contact Representative Zeleznikar and Senator Hauschild and let them know what you think.