Rich Updegrove, a 40-year-old Hunter's Park resident, announced his candidacy on Thursday for one of the two at-large seats that will be up for election on the Duluth City Council this November.
Updegrove will challenge incumbents Zack Filipovich and Barb Russ and newcomer Jan Swanson.
This is Updegrove's first run for office, but he has long been interested in government. He holds a doctorate in history and works as a social studies teacher at Duluth East High School. He is active in the Duluth Federation of Teachers and teachers' union Education Minnesota, and completed the Minnesota Union Leadership Program at the University of Minnesota this year.
"It's exciting to spend this time with 17- and 18-year-olds during an election year, and a unique one at that. It's the excitement of this time period - I think that drove me to want to get involved," he said.
Updegrove said he received a lot of encouragement to run for office from people he has met in the past year, and he decided that this is a good time for him to become a candidate. He was a national delegate for former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders last year and is the co-facilitator of Our Revolution-Duluth, a grassroots political organization that grew out of Sanders' supporters in the 2016 Minnesota caucuses. He was recently elected to leadership positions for the DFL in Senate District 7, the 8th Congressional District and the State Central Committee.
He said if elected, his top priority would be protecting water, Lake Superior and the natural environment.
"I think it's essential to what many people in Duluth value, regardless of what their politics might be. We love the lake in Duluth, and we need to make sure that we stand up for protecting the waters of Lake Superior," he said.
He also supports Duluth's Homeless Bill of Rights and local employers providing earned safe and sick time to their workers. He explained he supports protecting what Duluth has and caring for residents of all backgrounds.
He and his wife, Jennifer McEwen, are raising their two children in a 100-year-old home in the Hunter's Park neighborhood that McEwen's great-grandparents built after immigrating to the United States from Sweden. Three generations of his wife's family have grown up in the house.
"Looking to the future, I want our children to possibly raise their children in this house and to be in a community that I helped to keep on the right track," he said.