AHEAD OF THE PRIMARY: Leading mayoral candidates set priorities ahead of election

Top fundraising mayoral candidates
Published: Aug. 4, 2023 at 10:40 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- Duluth residents have a big decision to make in under a week: Which two mayoral candidates will head to the general election?

Before the August 8 primary elections, the mayoral race’s top fundraising candidates are spending their time talking to voters, hearing what issues they have on their minds.

Friday afternoon, Mayor Emily Larson spent time doing what has become familiar to her in recent weeks, knocking on doors.

Larson saying the most reoccurring conversations have been about the housing shortage.

“We are investing resources to drive down affordability,” said Larson, a mayoral candidate. “We are working downtown, we are going to be announcing a few hundred units downtown, then we are also focused on helping these empty office spaces flip into housing.”

While Larson was outside knocking on doors, her top fundraising opponent, Roger Reinert, has also been talking about what he believes will boost housing in the city.

He says the city’s recent work with housing has been admirable, but he believes more should be done.

“If a developer is going to build home in our community, they take on the responsibility for water, for sewer, for natural gas, even for street and curb. That is something that is totally appropriate for the city to take a lead on,” said Reinert, a mayoral candidate.

Another major problem many voters have been speaking to the candidates about, the opioid addiction and a growing mental health crisis. An issue Mayor Larson says Duluth has already taken a dramatic action to help.

“We are the first city in the nation that embedded a nurse in some of our 911 responses,” said Larson. “I am proud of that.”

Larson says she wants to continue investing in crisis care, but Reinert wants to shift focus to look at long term care.

“I want to work with the state,” said Reinert. “We need to re-establish the regional treatment system, a place where people have long term care for use issues as well as mental health issues.”

And as for Duluthians worst enemy, potholes, both candidates say they want to continue to find ways to improve road conditions.

“When I took office, we were doing two miles of road per year,” said Larson. “This summer we were doing 17 miles of road per year, that’s an 850% increase every year for the last three years.”

But Reinert wants to face the problem from a different angle, pitching a plan to shift city spending so there is greater focus to road repairs.

“Here we are August, and we still have many streets throughout the community that haven’t even had the potholes fixed yet,” said Reinert.

The candidates, hoping to have as many conversations with voters as possible, days before the primary.

This story focuses on only the two candidates, as they are by far the top fundraising candidates in the race.

Three other names will be on the ballot:

- Robert David Schieve

- Jesse Peterson

- Julie A. Mead.

The top two most voted for candidates will advance to the November general election.

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