Art Johnston, Candidate for Minnesota House 7B

Duluth News Tribune Column

Art Johnston, Candidate for Minnesota House 7B

We all know that Duluth is struggling and needs to change.  This was obvious long before COVID, and has to do with the unfriendly economic environment created by DFL policies in Duluth and Minnesota.  Despite being the most beautiful city in the Midwest, Duluth’s wealth hasn’t grown in forty years.   Our schools graduate many students, but we have too few good paying Union jobs to keep them here.  

And now the COVID pandemic is crippling our economy.  Thousands of Duluth’s citizen’s have been laid off in the medical and tourist industries. The Verso paper mill is shut down partly due to conditions put on industry by the DFL policies.  And our port, literally the heart of Duluth, and our District 7B, is down a third in shipments.  

We have to diversify our economy. In contrast to the DFL, I will strongly support mining, timber, and the shipping industries.  I will support Unions and the benefits that they will give to rebuilding our economy. 

I will work, in a bipartisan manner, to get the State government to open up the economy and start encouraging people to get on with their lives and community.  We all know that we must use every COVID precaution that we can to protect our elders and ourcompromised populations.  But further lockdowns need to stop—they are not sustainable.   

Many of you will recall how I was elected for eight years to be on the Duluth School Board, and how I brought rational thought, transparency, and accountability to this government.  I was also the champion of equity and diversity, and bringing quality instruction to ALL our students. K12 schools are the 2nd largest item in the Minnesota State budget, and my expertise in schools is sorely neededin St. Paul.

Despite the very low number of COVID cases in Duluth, and that children are virtually unaffected, there is little in-person instruction taking place.  Talk to parents and you will know the negative impact, both academically and socially, that this is having on our next generation–and also the economic and mental toll that this places on parents.   This is particularly troubling to disadvantaged families and single parent households,  many who are now doing the lion’s share of the education for their children, even if they never intended to be home schooling.

When elected, I will work to reopen schools. But COVID cases are not going away any time soon, and the resulting educational disruption must be dealt with. If schools are no longer able (for whatever reason) to provide quality education, we must start the serious discussion on alternatives and whether parents should now be given a choice, and any accompanying money, on how to educate their children.  

I look forward to representing Duluth.  Duluth is an amazing place:  We have beautiful architecture, an amazing environment, Lake Superior, and an economic history that was, and still is, paramount in the continuation of our modern society.  We are the most beautiful city in the Midwest. We have four universities and tech colleges, two world class medical centers, the world’s largest inland port, and we share all this all with the formerly robust tourist industry. 

Not long ago, I was a DFLer but the DFL no longer reflects Duluth and greater Minnesota’s values–they have lost their namesakes: farmers and labor. But I pride myself in bridging these gaps. And I will take pride in again giving Duluth working men and women a strong voice in St. Paul and to reverse the economic stagnation and pessimism that is gripping our beautiful city and State.

Duluth Police Department

It is important that the Duluth Police force be acknowledged, not only as part of the positive community in Duluth, but as being integral to our social fabric.  The Duluth Police have made successful efforts as being part of our neighborhoods and being fair and just protectors of our city.  They are even critical parts of our public schools and recently were unanimously welcomed back by the school board.   The Duluth Police are accountable to Duluth citizens.    It is thanks to our Duluth Police that our fair city has not devolved in the anarchy that too many cities around the country seem to be sinking into.   Thank you Duluth Police!

Art Johnston

Candidate for Minnesota House 7B (West Duluth)

DLH

Here we are at the Duluth International Airport. June 12. Built 4
years ago for $80 million. The 400 vehicle parking ramp is empty and
the 300 vehicle outdoor parking lot is nearly empty. Usually it is hard
to find a parking spots. There are now only two flights out of Duluth per day.
The few travelers are business, and there are no vacationer. This is a
disaster for tourism and construction jobs in Duluth. This is just
another example of the economic wreckage and devastation that the
lockdown and its dictatorial politicians have done to our Duluth
economy. Since the lockdown, 26,000 people have applied for
unemployment in St. Louis County. Probably 10,000 in Duluth. This
nightmare is not sustainable and must end.

Another Gut-punch to Local Economy: approximately 1000 employees will be laid off

Art Johnston at Verso paper mill, June 2020

Verso to Idle Duluth Paper Mill, Cites Market Decline

Freezing of Property Tax Statement

Most property owners in Duluth saw their property taxes go up by 10% this year. If elected, I will freeze this year’s property tax at last year’s amount, and make a retroactive refund to all property owners. This is a decision that must be made by the Minnesota Legislature, which I plan to be a part of after this election. The corona virus emergency, and government overreaction, has caused massive unemployment in Duluth—an estimated 20% of the work force are unemployed—an estimated 10,000 unemployed, just in Duluth alone. These workers need a property tax freeze until the economy is opened and rebounds. Government must start tightening their belt like everyone else. Duluth Mayor Larson and other state government officials have been pissing and moaning about projected tax revenue shortfalls while they keep spending $millions on new projects. It has been those same government officials that have used emergency powers and flawed, draconian computer modeling to strangle our economy long beyond what is necessary to protect our citizenry. Government claim that they can pick the pockets of tax payers at will. It is time say NO to tax increases.