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Iron County has a slate of anti-mining board candidates
A slate of mostly anti-mining candidates has filed for seats on the Iron County Board in this spring’s election. Mike Simonson reports.
Mike McGrath has never held political office before, but this time he’s spending his own money on mailings and pamphlets to defeat board chairman Joe Pinardi. McGrath says it’s nothing personal. Pinardi has lived across the street from him in downtown Hurley for 20 years.
“I says ‘You know Joe, I’m against the mine.’ He says ‘Mike, the Iron County Board has nothing to do with a decision on the mine’. Well, that just kind of opened my eyes a little more. I don’t believe that. They have everything to do (with it).”
Iron County often leads the state with 10 to 13% unemployment rates. So Pinardi says he is all for the open pit iron ore mine in the Penokees. He was just notified that the only grocery store in Hurley will close in March, throwing 40 people out of work.
“It’s horrible. It’s horrible. It’s not getting any better. I don’t know what to tell anybody. We’ve got to try to do something here. We’ve got to make it fly for GTAC or try to make anything fly around here.”
Usually, only a couple of the 15 county board seats are contested—but not this spring. Ten of the 15 incumbents are being challenged, mostly by people who oppose the way the board has handled the mining issue.
Vic Ouimette is running because he says Iron County is getting a raw deal from mining company Gogebic Taconite.
“The sweetheart lease, if you will, that the county did with the mining company was not a good deal for the county.”
Ouimette is trying to unseat Jim Lambert of Mercer. Lambert is philosophical about it all.
“I don’t know. I must be doing something right if they’re all mad at me. So that’s fine.”
Lambert says he’s just trying to do the best he can for the county, not GTAC or the state.
The general election is in April.
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