In about-face, Forsman to seek second term on Duluth City Council

The incumbent councilor earlier announced his plans to sit out the coming election, but says he reconsidered his decision at the behest of supporters.

Arik Forsman.jpg
Arik Forsman

DULUTH — At large City Councilor Arik Forsman has reversed course, announcing Thursday morning that instead of stepping down at the end of the year, he will instead run for reelection.

Looking back at his previous plans to bow out, Forsman said: “I think I needed a vacation more than I needed a lengthy departure from office.”

Constituents’ response to the prospect of him leaving office also apparently played a role in his change of heart.

“I have been truly humbled that folks have been asking me for the past three months to reconsider. And only after taking some time away, after I came out with my announcement in February, did I really process that and think about whether I had something left to offer or not. And I came to the decision that I did,” Forsman said.

After consulting with his family, Forsman decided to give it another go, joining what’s likely to be a seven-candidate field for two at large seats.


Forsman earlier had cited his desire to spend time with his family — including his wife, 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son — as a primary reason for his decision not to seek a second term.

“As I’ve had a chance to be in office with my kids being young, there’s always guilt that comes from being away from family," he said. "And that’s true when you’re at City Council, just as it’s true at your day job. But I think, quite frankly, I’m still planning on spending just as much time as I was with them, and that might mean that I’m not at everything anymore.

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"But I certainly still think I can do the job,” he said, adding that his children, particularly his daughter, have supported his decision to seek another term.

Forsman believes his experience and proven track record also work to his advantage. In all, six seats are up for election on the nine-member City Council, and prior to Forsman’s surprise announcement Monday, four of the incumbents were prepared to leave office at the end of the year.

Forsman noted that if reelected, he will be the most senior member of the Duluth City Council.

“I think I’ve been pretty effective. So, offering another experienced candidate on the ballot when you’ve got that much turnover, I think that gives Duluth a choice to have somebody with more tenure coming back,” he said.

Among his accomplishments, Forsman cited public safety strides, including his successful advocacy for increased police pay and a larger training budget for local firefighters. Forsman also pointed to his role in bringing Costco to town and making sure the city’s Memorial Day parade tradition held strong, despite some friction over costs and funding that had threatened the event’s continuation.

“I think the other thing experience brings is confidence in being able to challenge the city administration in a constructive way,” Forsman said. “No matter who wins the mayoral election, the Council needs to be a check on those policies and whether those decisions are truly in the best interests of the city. I think I’ve found a way to do that in a healthy manner.”


Despite his initial uncertainty, Forsman said he has no question now about “the fire still burning in my heart” to serve his community.

“I still live the work, and at the end of the day, that’s the reason that I’m jumping back in, because I really just enjoy problem-solving and helping move us all forward in a productive way. And if the people of Duluth want me to do that for four more years, then I would be happy to do it,” he said.

Forsman campaigned for the House District 8B seat last year, unsuccessfully challenging Alicia Kozlowski in the DFL primary election, even though she had won the local party endorsement. Rep. Kozlowski ultimately went on to win the general election, as well.

He referred to that campaign as “pretty grueling.”

“That was a tough race not only on me but on my family, and I signed up for that,” Forsman said.

In retrospect, Forsman said he considers local, nonpartisan politics a better fit. “It’s very unlikely you’ll see my name on a partisan ballot again,” he said.

Forsman was appointed to the at large seat in 2018, when Elissa Hansen left the council to take a new job as president and CEO of Northspan Group Inc. In 2019, he ran for the same post and won election. Forsman went on to be elected council president by his fellow councilors, as well.

Other candidates running for two at large city council seats that will be up for grabs this November include Ashlie Castaldo, Lynn Marie Nephew, Miranda Pacheco, Shawn Savela and Jenna Yeakle.


Although she has not yet filed, Therese Wisocki also has announced her intentions to run for an at large seat, potentially bringing the total field of candidates to seven, with Forsman joining the fray.

Candidate filings for local elected offices will remain open until Tuesday.

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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