Duluth City Councilor Barb Russ steps down, citing health issues

Russ is leaving her office early, as she was slated to serve until January 2022.

Barb Russ.jpg
Barb Russ, Duluth City Councilor (News Tribune file)

Duluth City Councilor Barb Russ announced her immediate resignation Thursday from office due to health problems.

“I have cancer, and fortunately I have wonderful doctors and am on my way to being able to cure it. I am still getting chemo, and have several more weeks of radiation," the at large councilor said. "I am feeling very confident that I am going to get through this.”

"This was not an easy decision for me to make, but it was one that will allow me the opportunity to focus on my health," Russ said.

Russ served 5½ years on the council, referring to her service as a privilege.

"During my tenure I have fought hard to help the homeless and underprivileged members of our community. I have worked to strengthen city services and to make our community a better place to live. I have also worked with other agencies and organizations within the city and St. Louis County," she said in a written statement.


A retired member of the St. Louis County Attorney's Office, Russ, 71, had been elected to her second consecutive term on the council and thanked residents for their support.

The Duluth City Council now will need to appoint someone to serve the remainder of her term, which ends in January 2022.

In retirement, Russ volunteered her legal services to those in need through a Legal Aide program, but she recently gave up her law license. Russ will continue to volunteer with the DFL party, where she said she intends to help "elect strong leaders."

Duluth City Council President Gary Anderson thanked Russ for her service and said she will be remembered as a champion of disadvantaged residents.

"Very often when Barb spoke from her seat on the council, she would speak about marginalized people and how they are affected by the policies that we create," he said, noting that Russ had served many years on the board of Community Action Duluth.

Despite her departure from the council, Russ pledged: "I remain dedicated to this community and will continue to find ways to serve in the future."

This story was updated at 4:54 p.m. Thursday, April 23, to include comments from Councilor Barb Russ and council President Gary Anderson. It was originally posted at 3:32 p.m. Thursday, April 23.

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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