State Rep. Rukavina Retires After 26 Years

By KBJR News 1

May 11, 2012 Updated May 11, 2012 at 9:12 PM CST

(Northland's NewsCenter)---State Representative Tom Rukavina is widely known for his support of the taconite industry plus the new generation of copper-nickle mining.

After more than two and a half decades, Rukavina is retiring and will not seek re-election this fall.

He's been a strong voice for the Iron Range for the last 26 years.

"He will fight as hard as anybody will fight for something that he believes in," Senator David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm said. "And he generally wins."

His drive and impassioned, colorful speeches will be remembered by most.

"He can make people mad at him and love him at the same time," Tomassoni said. "It's a pretty interesting quality of his."

"He's just always making everyone laugh, even if he's mad about something, you know your laughing along with him," Representative Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, said.

Rep. Rukavina says the changing atmosphere at the capital is one reason he's decided to hang up his hat.

"I was still able to do a couple of good things this session with the help of my republican friends in the legislature so I appreciate that," he said. "I appreciate the fact that I had friends on both sides of the aisle and served with a lot of good people."

He says he's most proud of his tenacity in defending individual constituents facing challenges with the government.

"Once in a while I got criticized for putting in bills just for one person," he said. "But I have never regretted that because it's made me feel really honored that I could do that for people when they were up against the wall in government. It made me sad when I couldn't."

Rep. Rukavina says he plans to spend time with his family and granddaughter and get married this fall.

"You can't replace that passion and spirit," Commissioner Tony Sertich of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board said. "It's going to take many people to stand up and replace that voice."

Rep. Rukavina's political work is not done yet.

He will finish out his term as Chair of the IRRRB.

Jennifer Walch
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