ELY – Voters will have a choice for the top elected office here this year. Mayor Chuck Novak ran unopposed in 2018, but he will be challenged this time around by first-time candidate Eric …
ELY – Voters will have a choice for the top elected office here this year. Mayor Chuck Novak ran unopposed in 2018, but he will be challenged this time around by first-time candidate Eric Urbas.
City Council incumbents Paul Kess, Jerome Debeltz and Ryan Callen also filed for re-election. No one stepped up to challenge them.
An Ely native and 2007 graduate of Ely Memorial High School, Urbas continued his education at the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he earned a degree in business administration with an emphasis in finance. He is employed with R&R Transfer.
In seeking elected office for the first time, Urbas said he is running for mayor because he “wants Ely to survive.” He noted that the community has missed some opportunities to grow.
“I think a lot of people want to keep living in Ely and I think there are some opportunities to gain some incentives and pull some industries into town. There are more opportunities out there,” he said.
“Growing up in Ely, my family is in Ely, my grandparents are from Ely. I don’t want Ely to fizzle away,” Urbas said. “I know a lot of people. I’ve traveled around the country. I talk to people, and knowing people is a big deal in politics. Getting more industry and more families here is my main mindset.”
Urbas said his platform is Ely.
“I want to help take care of Ely right now, before there is nothing left here. I think I have some good ideas. It seems there has been no change. I’m a young kid but I’m weathered in Ely. There are things that can change and some things that we want to stay the same.”
Novak is seeking a fourth consecutive two-year term, and he said that he is “nowhere near done” with his priority list to improve the community.
“We need to fight for our trailhead project, continue building on our infrastructure needs, continue to protect our city’s financial position,” he said. “My top priority remains our economic survival.”
Novak knows his way around the Capitol building in St. Paul. “My experience in building some real solid relationships at the Capitol has benefitted our city in terms of important financial support for our projects. It is a real benefit to be able to walk into the offices in St. Paul and be recognized by so many state officials,” he said.
The Aug. 11 election will allow Ely School District voters to make an up or down choice for the $10 million bonding referendum for the building facility renovation project.
Three school board positions, now held by Heidi Mann, Tom Omerza and James Pointer, are also up for grabs this year. No primary provision is in place in the district. Filing will take place later this summer for the November election.