VIRGINIA - One of Minnesota's feistiest legislators decided to call it quits in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Tom Rukavina (DFL) from Virginia has represented the Iron Range for 26 years, but announced Friday that he is retiring.
Most people who have worked with Rep. Rukavina in St. Paul or on the Iron Range could agree on a few of his characteristics.
"He was always on fire and alive and one of the most powerful people I know," IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich said.
For 26 years, Rukavina left his mark in the Minnesota House and the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.
But now, he said he is ready to go.
"At some point you feel it's time to turn it over to someone with a little more youth and a little more energy," Rep. Rukavina said.
Although many would find it hard to say he lacks energy, one thing that continued to be there was his passion for bringing change to the Range.
He said he is most proud of getting a law passed that requires the state to run a mine after it closes and before new owners step in.
"Because of that, Keewatin Taconite has opened twice and is running. EVTAC in Eveleth was kept open and running and LTV, all that infrastructure was saved and hopefully the first copper nickel mine will start up there," Rukavina said.
Those who work with Rep. Rukavina also commended him for his outspoken passion in education the local workforce.
"He, coming from an immigrant background, really proud of his culture and heritage, knew that our passport to a better future is education," Sertich said. "He lived that in his life and really did that in the legislature, too."
Rukavina, new to being a grandpa, and getting married in the fall, is ready to have more free time.
He said the changing relationships in government are not what they used to be.
"If you can't do it with a sense of humor and be friends again after a heated debate with somebody across the aisle then it's not fun anymore," Rukavina said.
So now, he is ready for more fun, on the Range.
Rukavina will continue to work with the IRRRB through the end of the year when his term is complete.