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Stewart supporters joins council race

A second supporter of outgoing Duluth City Councilor Russ Stewart announced her candidacy Wednesday to fill Stewart's 3rd District seat. "I feel it's very important to have a strong, progressive voice on the City Council," said East Hillside resi...

A second supporter of outgoing Duluth City Councilor Russ Stewart announced her candidacy Wednesday to fill Stewart's 3rd District seat.

"I feel it's very important to have a strong, progressive voice on the City Council," said East Hillside resident Sharla Gardner, 59.

Gardner will formally announce her candidacy today at a 1 p.m. news conference in front of City Hall.

This is Gardner's first run for public office. She said she's running at the urging of friends.

"I'm really good at advocating for other people, and for causes and issues I believe in," Gardner said. "I'm a citizen activist, and that's primarily how I see myself. Moving to this candidacy is just a progression in my responsibility as a citizen. I think I have a lot of offer. I'm a trained mediator. I can work on committees and get along with people."

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A lifelong resident of Duluth, Gardner has been employed by St. Louis County since 1973 and been a child-support officer since 1985. She is a member of the Executive Board of Public Employees Union AFSCME Local 66 and is a delegate to the Duluth Central Labor Body.

Gardner is the mother of two grown children.

She said that, as a county worker, she has no connection to or stake in the city's retiree health-care benefits issue.

The 3rd District includes the Central Hillside, East Hillside, Park Point, Observation Hill and lower Skyline neighborhoods. Stewart, who has represented the district for eight years, announced last week that he won't run this fall.

On Friday, one of Stewart's fans, Daniel Hartman, 24, announced his hopes of replacing Stewart in the 3rd District.

In addition to Stewart, City Councilors Don Ness, Laurie Johnson, Russ Stover and Tim Little all have terms expiring Jan. 7. Ness announced last week that he is running for mayor.

Stover has said he'll announce his intentions in a few weeks. Johnson and Little both said they're still undecided about whether to run again.

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