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Three defeat incumbents in Iron County, but not an anti-mining victory
The dust is settling in Iron County after Tuesday’s county board election. Mike Simonson reports elected officials see the results different from the media.
Many people couched it as a referendum on a proposed open pit iron ore mine in the Penokee Range.
This was the election that conservative group “Americans for Prosperity” sent out mailings calling seven of the 10 challengers for the Iron County board “environmental radicals”. Terry Daulton is an organizer for the non-partisan Iron County Citizens Forum which sponsored candidate debates. She says Americans for Prosperity got it wrong.
"That tried to pigeon hole which candidates were for or against the mine. Most of the people on the county board have been while generally favorable (but) somewhat skeptical. So I think there's a mixed bag."
In fact, Americans for Prosperity called one challenger an environmental radical who is an avid mine supporter. Brad Matson was another one targeted. But he is one of three people who defeated incumbents.
"I'm jukst very frustrated that all I've heard is 'Are you for the mine or against the mine?' and whatever. I know that's the issue and why it's news but it does get a little frustrating."
Board Chairman Joe Pinardi defeated an anti-mining candidate. He says they’re unified in trying to figure out a way to end chronic double-digit unemployment there.
"We're all looking for progress of some kind, something to turn our declining population around and declining school enrollment around."
Matson says Americans for Prosperity may have gotten out more of the vote, but he says overall, he’s not sure it influenced this election.
"I heard a whole lot of people on both sides of the mining issue saying 'Who the heck are these guys telling us how to vote?'"
Matson does say the new board will probably put Gogebic Taconite under closer scrutiny.
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