Politics and Government

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson announces bid for third term

Person stands at a podium with crowd behind her.
Flanked by supporters on the Lakewalk on the Lake Superior shoreline, Mayor Emily Larson announced Tuesday she will run for a third term in office.
Dan Kraker | MPR News

Standing on the recently rebuilt Lakewalk along the shore of Lake Superior on a blustery Tuesday morning, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson announced she is running for a third term to lead the largest city in northeastern Minnesota.

“I don't know if you get a better job than waking up and living in the community you get to have an impact in,” she said, describing her work as Mayor as “incredibly challenging” and “deeply personal.”

“It's a very intimate connection you have with the community. There's no buffer. There's no hiding. You have to be out front very clear on who you are with your community. And that's deeply rewarding.”

Larson became Duluth’s first female mayor in 2015 when she coasted to victory, earning 72 percent of the vote to succeed Don Ness, who chose not to run for a third term.

Four years ago she was reelected with 64 percent of the vote.

She said seeking a third term isn’t something she’s doing lightly. She said she wants to cement the progress her administration has made over the past eight years.

“The commitments that we have to building an economy that works for everybody, to sustainability, to evolving from the old Duluth to the new Duluth — this is when that really takes root,” she said.

Larson ticked off a number of accomplishments, including a record number of building permits issued last year, increased tourism tax revenues, the repair of around 15 miles of city streets per year, a rebuilt Superior Street and Lakewalk, and the addition of 1,500 new housing units across Duluth since 2016, including more than 350 affordable housing units in the past year.

She also laid out a vision for a third term, focused on reviving downtown and spreading out economic development throughout the city, addressing a continued housing, child care and workforce shortage, and improving broadband access.

Larson, 49, grew up in St. Paul and first came to Duluth as a student at the College of St. Scholastica. She worked as a social worker and a consultant for nonprofits before winning election to the city council in 2012.

With several local races on the ballot next year, including City Council and School Board elections, “Coming out early in this way when I know what this work is about felt like the right thing to do,” said Larson.

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