Duluth city elections set for 2015

Controversy surrounding the future of the Duluth Public Library appears to be a central issue in the city's 2015 election. PHOTO: Duluth Public Library Facebook page

Controversy surrounding the future of the Duluth Public Library appears to be a central issue in the city’s 2015 election. PHOTO: Duluth Public Library Facebook page

Duluth, the regional center and media hub of Northern Minnesota, holds odd-year elections. As such, filing just closed for this year’s city and school board offices in the Zenith City. Peter Passi reported about this in the Duluth News Tribune.

The big political story in Duluth is still the decision by popular Mayor Don Ness not to seek re-election. Ness’s departure leaves a major void in city leadership. Eight candidates have filed to succeed him, though it would appear that one has a clear early advantage.

The eight candidates for mayor are Thomas Cooper, John Howard Evans, Howie Hanson, Chuck Horton, Emily Larson, James Mattson, Robert D. Schieve, and John Socha.

Of these, Larson, currently an at-large city councilor and Council President, starts with the biggest advantage having already secured the DFL endorsement in this heavily Democratic city and begun an active campaign. Hanson is a sitting city councilor. Horton has kept a public profile as a local promoter and boxing trainer. The other candidates boast a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, but it will take some time to know which will emerge as contenders — especially from my perch here in the woods north of the Mesabi Range.

Four new candidates are seeking two at-large city council spots, with both incumbents bowing out or vying for higher office. They include Jim Booth, Elissa Hansen, Noah Hobbs and Kriss Osbakken.

In the 1st District, where Jennifer Julsrud is not seeking re-election, Gary Anderson and Karl Spring will face off.

In the 2nd District, Joel Sipress is unopposed for election. He was appointed to fill a vacancy last year.

In the 3rd District, where Sharla Gardner is not running again, Barri Love and Em Westerlund are the candidates.

Allan Beaulier, incumbent Jay Fosle, Derrick Ellis and Janet Kennedy will compete for the 5th District slot. Fosle is the only incumbent seeking re-election who faces a challenge.

From what I see in various candidate statements, I think one of the big issues in this Duluth election will be the controversial plans surrounding the Duluth Public Library. Earlier this year, the city “slowed down” a plan to replace the 35-year-old library with a more modern building. Some argue that the building is worth saving.

Duluth has received a lot of accolades for its “rebirth” in recent years, including from yours truly. The city, however, now faces the end of the honeymoon and a much less adorable challenge to maintain the momentum and address the massive income disparities and costs of living issues in the city. With hard years ahead for the Iron Range, Duluth will have little help in generating regional economic stability.

Regardless of the outcome of this election there will be a new mayor and several new councilors. The primary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 15, which will pare the 5th District council race and mayor’s race to two. The general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.