Every city has issues it must face, and Duluth is no exception. These four will be the base of my platform as I run for mayor.
Our streets are in dire need of attention, and our current funding strategy is inadequate. With the recent court ruling in favor of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in regards to casino revenues (which had previously been paid to the city and then used for street repairs and reconstruction) it is imperative that we establish a long-term plan to address this significant need.
As a City Councilor I served on the Streets Task Force; we studied the issue over the course of a year, took public comments, examined options for funding and made recommendations. Moving forward, it is likely that a solution for streets will include action on the state or federal legislative levels, revenue increases on the municipal level and strong partnership with the county to fully utilize a portion of the new county sales tax for streets with the City of Duluth.
This is an incredibly challenging issue, and it will require great determination to fully address it.
Duluth has an aging housing stock, especially in the single-family market, which is in need of investment and rehabilitation. Paired with the reality of generational turnover in the age and incomes of new homeowners, there exists an affordability gap in the maintenance and rehabilitation within our core neighborhoods. Along the way, there is the need and opportunity to increase energy efficiency as improvements are made, for healthier and better performing homes.
As a former board member of Center City Housing, an ally with One Roof Community Housing, founding member of the Duluth Energy Efficiency Program (DEEP) and co-owner of an architecture firm, I have a knowledge base and a set of relationships which can be utilized for developing creative and specific ideas to address this.
A strong future for our city must include clear action to bridge the gap between neighborhoods, people and economic class. We have growing income disparities between whites and people of color, we have neighborhoods where the average income is well below poverty and we have an enormous amount of work to do to educate, formulate and take action. This is an area of personal interest for me.
As a campaign we are starting our neighborhood intensives to engage in meaningful conversation and identify ways to ensure that everyone benefits from Duluth’s future. To get this going, I have spent the last three weeks in Lincoln Park, which is the geographic heart of the city and for me, serves as litmus for how the city as a whole is doing. From Bergey’s Bar to Bent Paddle, Seaway tenants to homeowners, I have been actively seeking information and insights about the neighborhood experience, perception and needs. Visiting with people, taking neighborhood tours and developing ideas—with Lincoln Park residents—for how the city can be a stronger partner in ensuring the health and livability of every neighborhood and the residents within them.
“Economic development” is a phrase that gets used a lot during political campaigns. And it should. It’s important. But not everyone defines economic development in the same way. Most people might think about Downtown, Canal Park or the Mall when they think about economic development, which are all pivotal to Duluth.
But let us not forget the other parts of our city, namely Lincoln Park.
It’s not always the first place people think about when they think economic development. But Duluth will never reach its full potential until every part is economically sound.
Economic development is investing in entrepreneurs. It’s helping our small businesses grow. And it’s finding ways to support what we already have here in places like Lincoln Park. The kind of development I want to see more of is the kind that’s in our neighborhoods and supports businesses that offer good jobs that pay a fair wage. Because economic development is great for cities when it’s also good for the people who live in them.
As mayor, I would be dedicated to using our economic development tools to build an economy that works for everyone. And I’ll be building on my current work as President of the City Council and Duluth Economic Development Authority Commissioner, but I’ll also be building on my own experience as a small business owner.