By a unanimous vote Monday night, 4th District City Councilor Renee Van Nett was appointed council president, succeeding 1st District Councilor Gary Anderson in the role.
Meanwhile, at large Councilor Arik Forsman was elected vice president also by a 9-0 vote, replacing Van Nett in that position.
In nominating Van Nett for president, 3rd District Councilor Roz Randorf noted that 52 male councilors and 13 female councilors have held the leadership post, but Van Nett is the first person of color to be elected council president. Van Nett is of Indigenous descent.
Randorf referred to Van Nett as "an excellent leader" and said: "She makes other people feel bigger, and by that I mean more confident and more capable and more valued. On the surface, she's quiet and unassuming, but no one garners more respect. She makes time for everyone, She asks good questions, She shoots straight. And when you're with her, she makes you feel important because of the way she listens, cares and celebrates your strengths over hers."
Van Nett thanked Anderson for his service as president in 2020, praising him for his "inclusive leadership." She called her predecessor "insightful" and said Anderson distinguished himself by bringing all voices to the table and really listening.
"I anticipate making some mistakes like everybody does. But I think we'll get through it, because I have total faith and trust that we want a better community," Van Nett said.
Duluth Chief Administrative Officer Noah Schuchman congratulated Van Nett on her election to the presidency and also extended his thanks to Anderson, saying: "This year was not what any of us expected when it began. And like all of you, our staff and the community, Councilor Anderson adapted with grace and class to all that the year threw at us. Thank you for your dedication and service as president Councilor Anderson."