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Paine to seek another term as Superior mayor

Mayor Jim Paine says the progress made over the last five years is just the beginning of his goals for the city.

Superior Mayor Jim Paine speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for Superior Water, Light and Power’s first community solar garden
Superior Mayor Jim Paine speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for Superior Water, Light and Power’s first community solar garden Sept. 8. Paine has announced he plans to seek another term.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — Mayor Jim Paine announced Thursday, Sept. 15, he will be seeking another term in office.

While it would be his third term in office, it would only be his second four-year term.

Paine was initially elected in 2017 to finish two years of Mayor Bruce Hagen’s fifth term in office after Hagen retired mid-term.

“Superior’s come a long way in the last five years, but I’m telling you, we’re just getting started,” Paine said.

Superior has a new mayor and two new city councilors following Tuesday's election. Douglas County Board vice chairman, Jim Paine, won his bid over City Councilor Brent Fennessey with 58 percent of the vote. While Paine won't take office for two w...

During his tenure as mayor, Paine said hundreds of housing units have been built. The city has invested millions in economic development, brought new retail to the city, lowered taxes and fees, and brought greater access to the wilderness and Lake Superior than there has been in the last 50 years, he said.

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Superior Mayor Jim Paine works on attaching a piece of playground equipment Aug. 15, 2019, as volunteers build the Webster Dream Park in South Superior.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

In 2019, Paine had the idea to look at economic development differently. While the city had a long tradition of assisting large businesses with development in the city, Paine worked to create the first grant program designed to help small businesses develop and grow in the city.

Since the inception of the small business grant program, the city has invested $485,744 in dozens of small businesses to spur more than $1.8 million dollars of investment in small business throughout the city.

“I just want to say that hasn’t been just me,” Paine said. “Leadership matters so we did that as a team. We had a great city council. We have outstanding professional staff that have relied more than anything on the support of the public with the courage they demonstrated to support some pretty radical changes.”

However, Paine said the things that have been accomplished over the last five years are just the beginning of making Superior a better community.
“I want to focus especially on affordable housing, bringing beautiful neighborhoods to every corner of the city,” Paine said. “I want to keep investing in safer streets and sidewalks so everyone from kids to senior citizens can feel safe moving around even on foot in their own neighborhoods.”

The mayor said there is still room for growth in local retail, but he wants to focus on local shopping districts in every neighborhood.

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Superior Mayor Jim Paine, front left, leads Gov. Tony Evers, front right, up the stairs of the Madison Concourse Hotel during Superior Days in Madison on Feb. 22.
Maria Lockwood / 2022 file / Superior Telegram

“People used to be able to go shopping in all parts of the city, and I want to bring that back,” Paine said. “I think we can bring better access to mental health care and drug rehabilitation … as tough as those challenges are, I really think we can solve them.”

The city last year established a grant to assist mental health service providers in the city.

However, one of the ideas that really excites him is bringing art, film and culture back to downtown. “We’ve already started investing in that,” Paine said. “It’s been too long since there have been great things to do downtown.”

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Jim Paine announces his candidacy for mayor of Superior at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in 2017.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

The city has purchased the former Princess Theater at 1310-1312 Tower Avenue and is working on a plan to redevelop the theater built in 1913. The city has also approved funding to establish public art in the city.

“I have a really big dream to bring access to the outdoors to every single home and every single neighborhood in the city of Superior. “I really think you should be able to walk to an outstanding outdoor experience no matter where you’re from in the city.”

He said that will require investing in some neighborhoods more than others and investing in parks to ensure beautiful outdoor spaces where people can spend their time.

“Just because you live in the North End, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to great experiences that everyone else has,” Paine said.

Paine is the first candidate to announce plans to run for office in 2023. The election will be held April 4 with a primary to be held Feb. 21. In addition to the mayor, even-numbered council districts will be on the ballot.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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