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Bergson announces run for at-large seat

Former Superior Mayor Herb Bergson will be seeking election to the Duluth City Council this fall. This will be the second attempt by Bergson to gain a seat on the City Council after unsuccessfully running against Gary Doty for the mayor's job in ...

Former Superior Mayor Herb Bergson will be seeking election to the Duluth City Council this fall. This will be the second attempt by Bergson to gain a seat on the City Council after unsuccessfully running against Gary Doty for the mayor's job in 1995. He ran for an at-large City Council seat in 1999, and lost by less than 1,000 votes. Bergson announced this week that he will again seek an at-large seat on the council. The two incumbents, Patty Edwards and Lynn Fena, have not announced whether or not they'll seek re-election, and two others have already announced their candidacies.
Bergson says he'll run a campaign focused on Duluth's efforts at economic development. He says the city's use of tax increment financing is far too extensive, and he'd like to see the number of TIF districts reduced.
"Everybody who runs for City Council talks about reducing the size of TIF," he said. "But it never seems to happen. People don't realize how much tax increment finance hurts education. That money isn't going to the tax base for the schools. It really punishes the other branches of government when you have so much money tied up."
According to Bergson, about 20 percent of the city's commercial/industrial property is tied up in tax increment financing. "That's a lot of money," he said. "I'd like to see that reduced from 20 percent to eventually zero. It won't happen overnight, but it's got to start somewhere. The more tax increment money that is put back in the tax roles, the greater the tax roles for the citizens, and you can reduce property taxes tremendously."
Bergson says sometimes tax increment financing is appropriate -- when the benefit of jobs and long-term economic benefit outweighs the cost. "Tax increment financing can go to good causes," he said. "To me, it should be going to projects that create a lot of jobs and provide long-term tax revenue increases. That isn't always what happens. You use it for projects because it's convenient."
Bergson says the at-large seat appealed to him because he doesn't want to run against his own district's councilor, Russ Stover, and because there is a wider variety of issues across the city.
"At large is preferred because it allows me to get involved in more issues and meet more people and have a greater impact on how the city is going. I'd like to think I've got the experience to help in the day-to-day operations."
On the smoking ordinance, Bergson says he supports efforts to hold a referendum on the issue. "I don't believe I can understand how to run a small business because I've never owned a small business," he said. "In many cases, city officials forget they need to sit down and talk with people to see how changes affect them."
Next week, Bergson will sit down with his campaign committee and form budgets and strategies. Bergson lives in Smithville with his wife, Jacqui, and two sons, David and Jesse. He works for the Superior Police Department as a detective and added that, if elected, he would always support the needs of the Duluth Police Department.

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