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Mayoral Madness: Ness vs. Bell

A longtime community activist and one-time funeral home owner, Charlie Bell said Duluth is deteriorating. He said the city needs someone in the mayor's office with problem-solving experience and the ability to bring people together. The West Dulu...

A longtime community activist and one-time funeral home owner, Charlie Bell said Duluth is deteriorating. He said the city needs someone in the mayor's office with problem-solving experience and the ability to bring people together. The West Duluthian was the first to announce his candidacy. He also was a mayoral candidate in 2003, losing to Herb Bergson in the general election.

Q: What is Duluth's biggest opportunity?

A: Reinvigorating City Hall. Everything we do, whether it's in economic development, whether it's in the medical community, whether it's in neighborhoods or has to do with crime, everything we do and deal with revolves around City Hall, and we need to reinvigorate City Hall. We can do that by providing the type of leadership we need to become a proactive community. My experience in neighborhood and community development and in looking at things with a business approach and financial approach can give Duluth that leadership. A lot of it is my roots. Community development is important to bring to City Hall.

Q: The estimate for building a road between Arrowhead Road and the Miller Hill Mall is $5 million. Is that worth it to keep mall traffic off residential streets?

A: This is a neighborhood problem. It's a neighborhood concern. I've always been a neighborhood person. I think our unique neighborhoods and communities have to be valued.

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If the residents in that community are brought to the table and are part of the decision, then whatever decision is made is going to be the right one. Saving two or three minutes isn't as much a concern as maintaining the integrity of our neighborhoods.

First elected in 1999 at age 25, Donny Ness became the youngest person ever elected to the Duluth City Council.

Make that Don Ness, a name change befitting of a now-seasoned officeholder and politician. A former campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, the Duluth native works for the Zeppa Family Foundation, which focuses on environmental and social programs and the arts.

Ness was prompted to enter the mayor's race because of his frustration over Duluth's "political culture, divisions, grandstanding and special-interest politics," he said. "That does a disservice to the community.

"I wanted to provide an option to the citizens, a leadership that reflects our community's core values of honesty, integrity and civility."

Q: What is Duluth's biggest opportunity?

A: Duluth has to take full advantage of the changes in our nation's work force in the next 10 years. I've initiated a strategy group charged with creating a comprehensive work force system in Duluth. By investing in skill and talent development, we'll be creating a real and sustainable economic advantage and stable careers for residents. ...Boomers are going to redefine retirement. We need to make sure our economy provides those types of opportunities.

Q: The estimate for building a road between Arrowhead Road and the Miller Hill Mall is $5 million. Is that worth it to keep mall traffic off residential streets?

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A: We need to look at the entire transportation system in the mall area. We've made a tremendous amount of progress in recent years in creating a more comprehensive system. The connector from Arrowhead Road to the mall area is an important element of that. It's about efficiently moving people and goods around our community and that is, right now, a real shortcoming.

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