NE Minn. elections preview exciting races ahead

A mild set of Tuesday elections nestled in amid a sea of voter apathy and general outrage, yielding only one lesson: the message matters

Some school referenda passed, others failed. Statewide, 70 percent of all referenda passed — indicating some level of support for education amid state budget cuts. In Duluth, however, voters overwhelmingly defeated school bonds. Those same voters approved a city services referendum by a similarly wide margin. Residual anger over the recent reorganization, closures and expensive remodeling projects in Duluth schools can probably explain the contradictory results.

Same for Mesabi East, where a few years after an expensive remodeling voters rejected an operating referendum.

But in Range districts like Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert, voters OK’d bond referenda.

In the city of Duluth, Emily Larson and Linda Krug easily won the two available at-large city council seats. In District 1, Jennifer Julsrud appears to have narrowly defeated Todd Fedora by just 18 votes. A recount is expected there. In the District 4 special, former councilor Garry Krause defeated appointed incumbent Jackie Halberg by four percentage points. Mayor Don Ness and Councilors Sharla Gardner and Jay Fosle were all unopposed for re-election. Despite that, the city council will have a dramatic new look when it reconstitutes.

In Virginia, voters overwhelmingly approved a change to city charter that would allow the municipal hospital system to merge with a private company. Mayor Steve Peterson and three incumbent city councilors all easily won re-election.

Whether it was Duluth or the Range, measures and candidates who could point to cohesive messages usually ended up winning. Though, to be clear, political organization also matters. I sense a malleable electorate as we approach what will be higher-drama elections in 2012.

A full list of results is available at WDIO.


  1. School districts have to put together a good case for bond referendum. Yet there are restrictions on promoting the YES vote. That is a balancing act. Plus they have to hit the right timing with the people in the district.

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