Looking ahead for Duluth as Ness gives final State of the City

Duluth Mayor Don Ness

Mayor Don Ness speaks from a podium sculpted from ice on the steps of Duluth City Hall during his 2012 inauguration.

Monday night, Duluth Mayor Don Ness gave his final State of the City address as he looks ahead to his last year in office.

In a Peter Passi Duluth News Tribune story today, Ness is quoted advocating for a new library at First Ave. E. and Superior Street and discussing improvements to trails and other amenities around the city.

Ness said he has felt fortunate to serve as mayor at a time when the city “has regained its self-confidence.”

“In the past, Duluth has not had the luxury to look ahead. We were in survival mode. We had the immediate crisis or massive problem that required our full attention. Today, we have the ability and the privilege to look ahead — to practice our city’s capacity to think big,” he said.

Ness’s tenure in Duluth was an objective political and civic success story. Now the city looks ahead to a wide open election year that could challenge the relative unity the city enjoyed under Ness.

Last weekend, Duluth City Councilor Howie Hanson announced that he would withdraw from the mayoral race after having been the first to announce a campaign. That leaves At-Large Councilor Emily Larson as the only remaining candidate, and the early favorite. State Sen. Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) considered a potential run for the office, but announced he wouldn’t run last month. The big name still out there, however, is former Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, who has yet to announce her intentions.

A Larson vs. Prettner Solon campaign could be interesting, especially if other candidates got involved. Both Prettner Solon and Larson are well-known DFL women, with Larson working off of some of Ness’s “progressive youngster” playbook, and Prettner Solon from the DFL establishment. They both have their own overlapping constituencies.

Though I don’t know as much about the council races down ballot, an old friend of the blog Noah Hobbs announced his campaign for Duluth City Councilor-at-Large over the weekend. The at-large council race is the only other city-wide election besides mayor, and has served as a proving ground for aspiring political leaders in recent decades.


  1. Steve W. says

    I’m watching out for a Chris Dahlberg run at the Mayor’s Office. There has been some reported interest (according to the DNT he’ll say one way or another in April) but I’ve also heard general rumors. The failed Senate run built him a pool of donors and connections that I’m sure would be well used in a mayoral race.

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