Elected Officials Demand Superior Days Remove Mining From Lobbying Agenda

February 18, 2013  by Barbara With

At a recent listening session held in Ashland, 240 people registered against the mining bill, with only 25 for.

At a recent listening session held in Ashland, 240 people registered against the mining bill, with only 25 in favor.

In a press release sent out today, Ashland City Council member and Superior Days participant Kelly Westlund renewed her request to the organizers of the grassroots lobbying event to remove mining from this year’s agenda.

In a letter dated February 15, 2013 addressed to Superior Days Coordinator Linda Bruce, copied to co-chairs Douglas Finn and Bruce Hagen, and signed by 23 elected officials from area counties, Westlund reiterated the reason why mining should not be included on the agenda since it continues to be a highly divisive issue in the community.

“Clearly, the actual consensus (if indeed, there is one) is not reflected in the issue to be put forth by Superior Days. This is demonstrative of the very real need to reform the issue submission process to be more inclusive of the stakeholders in the region,” she said. “If Superior Days delegates are asked to present a united front on lobby issues, they deserve to have the opportunity to review and edit or reject each of the issues presented before the printed materials are prepared,” Westlund concluded.

Ashland City Council member Kelly Westlund testified against a mine in the Penokees, February 9, 2013, as did the mayors of Bayfield, Washburn and Ashland.

Ashland City Council member Kelly Westlund testified against a mine in the Penokees, February 9, 2013, as did the mayors of Bayfield, Washburn and Ashland

For each of the past 28 years, Superior Days has sent delegates from the north to Madison to lobby for issues that are of relevance to the area. The bedrock principle of the group that gives it integrity and clout is that issues taken up by the group are decided by a consensus of the members so they can be promoted in Madison with a united front.

This year, however, mining was placed on the agenda by the Ashland Area Development Corporation, a non-profit private corporation whose mission is to “improve the economic well-being of the Ashland area,” over the vocal and well publicized objections of local elected officials, citizens and past participants in Superior Days.

Westlund intends to visit legislators and raise awareness of the issues. “Superior Days is a unique and important opportunity for citizens of Northern Wisconsin to engage their government. It is my hope that this will lead to a more transparent, inclusive, and representative Superior Days going forward,” she said. “Each legislator will receive a copy of the letter prior to the start of the Superior Days lobby effort tomorrow. It’s my goal to make sure that our state elected officials know that the proposed mining legislation is extremely unpopular in the north and that our water is more important to us than some short-term economic gain.”

UW-Extension employee and Superior Days coordinator Linda Bruce has not responded to repeated requests for an interview.

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