OUR VIEW: DULUTH VOTERS WERE CLEAR: KEEP MOMENTUM GOING
Posted on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:45 p.m.
Tuesday’s election left little doubt. Most of us are pleased with the way things are going and with where Duluth is heading: Our enviably low 3.2 percent unemployment, our nearly $2 billion of development and construction either underway or soon to be, violent crime at its lowest level in five years and City Hall’s vastly improved financial picture among the many reasons for optimism — and for the way Tuesday’s vote went down.
Duluth didn’t just pick the mayoral candidate who held the most promise of maintaining our momentum and building on all the good going on; voters screamed for her. They demanded Emily Larson take over. Currently the City Council president and a member of the Duluth Economic Development Authority, Larson won the mayor’s race by a nearly 3-to-1 landslide margin. She took every single one of the 34 precincts in a city that had never before elected a woman mayor. The moment was as significant as it was decisive.
In the same way, voters picked City Council candidates who embraced outgoing Mayor Don Ness’ many successes and the foundation those achievements provide in assuring the prospects of a positive future. Gary Anderson scored a decisive 62 percent to 38 percent victory in eastern Duluth’s 1st District. Together, Elissa Hansen and Noah Hobbs took nearly 70 percent of the vote to easily win two open At Large seats.
Only incumbent 5th District Councilor Jay Fosle was able to buck the trend, grabbing 56 percent of the western Duluth vote. He remains a welcome check and balance on an otherwise overwhelmingly liberal body.
Even the way we’re already voting received a strong endorsement from the electorate Tuesday. A ballot measure to switch to a rank-the-candidates system was soundly defeated 15,564 to 5,271. That’s a nearly 3-to-1, leaves-no-doubt margin.
The way we’re doing things is working. It’s working just fine, thank you. That’s the message Duluth voters sent Tuesday.
Negative naysayers might counter that the vote was for the status quo. But “status quo” suggests stagnancy and apathy, something negative in the absence of positive. Duluth is anything but stagnant right now, and there are plenty of positives on which we’re already building. Our tax base is growing after decades of decline. Our population of young people ages 25 to 34 is increasing, bucking a trend many thought would never be reversed. And we’ve solved our sewer-overflow problem, retiree health care crisis and financial woes: The city’s general fund debt has been reduced by 40 percent, and what had been a reserve-fund deficit is now a healthy surplus.
Tuesday’s vote was an endorsement for the turnaround and a call for the rebound to continue after those dark days of industrial and economic collapse in the 1970s and ’80s. No way we want to go back. That’s what we said at our polling places Tuesday. We like our newfound swagger and the positive ways the rest of the country is starting to see Duluth.
Tuesday’s election left little doubt.