Larson Campaign | Nov 11th, 2015 | Campaign News
By Peter Passi on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:21 a.m.

Emily Larson will be the first woman to lead Duluth after voters overwhelmingly elected her as the city’s next mayor on Tuesday.

“I think together, as a community, we have changed the face of leadership in a way that’s going to really benefit girls and women for generations to come,” Larson said Tuesday night, moments after learning of her election victory.

Larson, who is president of the Duluth City Council, handily won election over her opponent, Chuck Horton. She captured 71.9 percent of the votes cast Tuesday to his 27.5 percent, with 0.6 percent of ballots listing write-in candidates, according to unofficial results issued by the city clerk’s office Tuesday night.

Horton, a 49-year-old former boxing coach and promoter now entering the chemical dependency counseling field, ran strongest in Duluth’s western neighborhoods, receiving 36 percent of the vote in Precinct 33 (the Morgan Park area).

But Larson took the day, finishing well ahead of Horton in almost every other precinct.

Reflecting on the results, Larson said: “That margin is humbling and it’s gratifying. We worked really hard across the city to get these numbers.”

She said she is well aware that her big victory carries with it high expectations.

“People have been working with our campaign in the hope that this isn’t just about trying to get somebody elected to office, but it’s also about getting things done. I am really motivated by that win margin to get a lot of good work done with our neighborhoods and with the city.”

Despite his defeat, Horton said he had no regrets about his candidacy.

“I feel like I’ve grown so much as a person in this whole endeavor. First off, congratulations to Emily. I think that’s wonderful we’ve got our first woman mayor in Duluth. I think that’s historic, and I’m very happy for her and her family,” he said.

“She’s a very nice lady. We disagree politically on some issues, but she’s still a very nice person,” Horton said. “My first and foremost thing that I’m proud of is bringing to light the seriousness of the drug issue that’s happening in Duluth.”

In January, Larson, a 41-year-old consultant, will succeed Mayor Don Ness, who chose not to seek re-election after two terms of service. Ness enjoyed immense popularity and became the city’s first mayor to run for re-election with no opposition in 2011.

At the Rainbow Senior Center, Hillside resident Nancy Peaslee said Larson will have big shoes to fill. Peaslee said she understood that Ness no longer desired to serve as mayor, but that didn’t stop her from wishing she could re-elect him.

“If I could have written Donny Ness’ name on every line (of the ballot), I would have. We’re going to miss him big time,” Peaslee said.

Larson entered the mayoral race in December, and Horton launched his bid about five months later.

“If I would have had more time, who knows. I jumped into the race late compared to my opponent. I had to really come from behind,” Horton said.

“I just want to thank the community,” Larson said. “I understand that people put a lot into their vote. People in Duluth think a lot about who they’re voting for and why. They’ve put their faith and their trust in me, and I’m going to work very hard to maintain that.”