Besides electing a new mayor and city councilors come November, Duluthians also will weigh in on ranked-choice voting and whether sales of liquor should be allowed in the Lakeside and Lester Park neighborhoods.

But the Duluth City Council could not agree Monday night on the exact wording of the ranked-choice voting question to be placed on the ballot. Unable to reach consensus after lengthy discussion, councilors tabled the matter, and Council President Emily Larson said she hopes to schedule a special meeting at noon Friday to adopt the question that ultimately will be put to voters at the next general election.

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The councilors had better luck agreeing on the wording of another question: "Should the state statute which prohibits the issuance of licenses for the sale of intoxicating liquor in the Lakeside and Lester Park neighborhoods be repealed?" Yes or no?

That vote will be non-binding but could provide direction as the city considers lifting the ban on the sale of liquor in Duluth's easternmost neighborhoods - an action that also would require a change in state law.

The referendum on ranked-choice voting will be binding, however. If a majority of voters demonstrate a preference for ranked-choice voting, Duluth will adopt this new means of deciding elections, following in the footsteps of other cities such as Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The Lakeside/Lester Park question is being brought forward to a city-wide vote at the request of 1st District City Councilor Jennifer Julsrud, who represents the neighborhoods.

"Sometimes a neighborhood can get a little stuck in its own thinking, and I thought it would be nice to have a broader conversation with friends and colleagues across the city," she said. "I think it will deepen the debate and the discussion," she said.

But 4th District Councilor Howie Hanson questioned the wisdom of the approach.

"To go with a community-wide vote is definitely going to skew the vote in favor of a 'yes,'" he said. "People in my 'hood in the western half of town are going to say: 'Yeah. Go ahead. Let's do it.' Because it's not in our neighborhood."

Hanson advised Julsrud to reconsider.

"I think the vote should clearly be made by the people who are the most impacted and who have the most to gain or lose in this situation," he said.

But Julsrud said the council will be able to look at the results precinct by precinct and gauge the affected neighborhoods' sentiments in addition to those of other city residents. She said she would support amending the law only if a clear majority of neighborhood residents so desired.

By just one vote, residents of Lakeside and Lester Park indicated they did not wish to liberalize liquor laws about a decade ago, when they were last asked whether the law should be changed.