Minnesota Governor Elect Tim Walz listens in Grand PortageDec 03, 2018 02:47PM ● By Editor
Grand Portage Tribal Council Chairman Norman Deschampe (left) welcomes Governor Elect Tim Walz at the Grand Portage Community Center on Monday. All photos: Boreal Community Media
From Boreal Community Media - December 3, 2018
A standing room only crowd greeted Minnesota Governor Elect Tim Walz as he visited Cook County on Monday. The public "town hall" meeting was the second to last stop of his "One Minnesota" tour of 24 sites across Minnesota since his election in November. Walz takes office of Minnesota Governor in January.
In opening remarks before taking questions and hearing comments from the audience, Walz said that the point of the "listening tour" was to get diverse input and understanding of all of the challenges facing Minnesota as he was working with his transition team before taking office. Walz also praised the engagement of Minnesota citizens. "While I am proud to be elected Minnesota Governor," Walz said, "I am more proud of the fact that Minnesota had the highest election turn-out of any state in the country."
Walz acknowledged that the political climate is divisive in the United States but vowed to help Minnesotans find "strength in our difference of opinion and perspectives." He noted that Minnesota is the only state in the nation with a divided state legislature; the Minnesota State House now in control of Democrats and the Minnesota Senate in the hands of Republicans, saying "divided government is an incredible opportunity" for developing real and lasting solutions to our mutual challenges.
After about ten minutes of opening remarks, the remainder of the hour-long session was an open forum for community members to make comments or ask questions of the Governor Elect.
Walz addresses an audience member comment during the "listening session".
Approximately one dozen community members stood to address Walz with comments and questions. The comments covered a wide spectrum of issues from people in Cook County including climate change, affordable housing, economic development, daycare, wild rice sulfide standards, the opioid epidemic, support of education and the tension between metropolitan areas and rural Minnesota.
Community members exchanged views during the "listening session".
Members of the Grand Portage tribal community asked Walz about his commitment to Native Americans and their rights and sovereignty. Walz mentioned that he started his career in education as a teacher near the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota saying that "if our indigenous children are doing well, the entire community is doing well." Walz pointed out that his running mate, Lt. Governor Elect Peggy Flanagan, is a citizen of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe and serves on the board of Native Progress.
Multiple community members spoke to the Governor Elect about their feelings about mining in general and specifically cooper sulfide mining and their impacts on the environment. Walz spoke about his commitment to protecting the environment while still growing the economy. Walz promised "to be a fair arbiter".
When asked when he will return to Cook County, Walz said he believes in public input and encouraged people to stand up and speak out and give input. "If you don't see me again, I am failing you".
Walz finished by encouraging community members to be engaged during the transition and make recommendations for State department commissioners during the transition period as new state government is installed. Walz will be sworn in as Governor of Minnesota on January 7, 2019