Residents begin collecting signatures for recall of Two Harbors mayor

The petition needs almost 450 signatures and addresses — 20% of Two Harbors registered voters.

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Two Harbors Mayor Chris Swanson takes the stage to present a letter from six Iron Range mayors supporting the Trump-Pence campaign during Vice President Mike Pence's campaign visit to Lake Superior Warehousing in August 2020 in Duluth.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Residents of Two Harbors are collecting signatures as they try to recall Mayor Chris Swanson.

After several weeks of meetings , a group of residents on Monday presented their certificate for recall of Swanson to city administration and began collecting the almost 450 signatures — 20% of registered voters in the city — needed for the recall to move forward.

It comes after a tumultuous two months for Swanson, which began with concerns over his underwater hotel and cryptocurrency pursuits and has led to other potential conflicts of interest and ethical concerns coming to light.

"The biggest challenge so far has been figuring out how to sufficiently explain the multiple allegations of malfeasance against the mayor within the 500-word limit dictated by the City Charter," said Todd Ronning, chair of the Resign or Recall Committee.

Swanson declined to comment.


The certificate lists six examples of what the group says are violations of the city code's code of conduct and ethics:

  1. Swanson represented himself as mayor when soliciting funds for the Friends of the Bandshell Park through his business Garage Starts.
  2. Swanson failed to disclose that the newly formed First Day Events, which originally had the contract to organize the Festival of Sail, was formed by his daughter , Ashleigh, and run by an employee of Swanson's Garage Starts.
  3. Swanson used his mayoral title to attract potential investors in the underwater hotel to meet with him, on Vibrant Two Harbors' unfinished but public website, .
  4. Swanson’s family purchased the Lou’s Fish House building and opened several businesses in the space after Brian Entzion, of Knife River, told Swanson of his vision for the same property.
  5. Swanson used his Twitter account, which identifies him as mayor, to promote his nonprofit National Civility Association.
  6. Swanson, in a podcast about the underwater hotel, said, "Being mayor, I do get a little bit of sway. I’ve been able to secure quite a bit of funding through the state."

According to the Two Harbors City Charter , a recall petition can move forward if 20% of the registered voters in an officer’s constituency sign a statement of removal that outlines “allegations of malfeasance or nonfeasance.”

There were 2,241 registered voters in Two Harbors the morning of the 2020 general election, meaning almost 450 voters in the city would have to sign the petition for it to be considered by city administration. If the signatures are gathered and city staff verifies them and their addresses, a proposed ordinance is sent to the City Council, which must then take action. If the official does not resign in five days, the council must schedule a recall election where the ballot would have one yes or no question: “Shall (name of elected official) be recalled,” according to the charter.

If a majority of voters mark yes, then the City Council will fill the position with an appointment if there is less than two years left in the term or call a special election if there is more than two years left in the term.

Swanson’s term is up in January 2025.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at or 218-723-5332.
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