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Three Duluth City Councilors back mayoral candidate Ness

Including himself, Duluth mayoral candidate Don Ness has nearly a quorum of current Duluth city councilors who have thrown their support for him in the Sept. 11 primary.

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Including himself, Duluth mayoral candidate Don Ness has nearly a quorum of current Duluth city councilors who have thrown their support for him in the Sept. 11 primary.

Ness, an At Large city councilor and former campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, will officially be endorsed today by councilors Roger Reinert, Russ Stewart and Jim Stauber, according to a news release acquired by the News Tribune. The councilors represent political perspectives from the left, middle and right.

Ness was first elected in 1999 and also will be endorsed today by former council colleagues Lynn Fena, Ken Hogg, Rob Stenberg and Patty Edwards, who also come from a variety of ideological leanings.

"I think it is an indication, in my approach to public service, that I am able to work with and maintain strong relationships with people all across the political spectrum," Ness said Tuesday. "And it's the job of the mayor to work with folks with different perspectives."

Stewart said in a race with 11 candidates, including fellow Councilor Greg Gilbert and Mayor Herb Bergson, Ness is the moderate's choice. He also is running the most positive campaign, Stewart added, an issue that was raised by several other endorsers as well.

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Fena said that Ness' optimism stands out, according to prepared remarks issued by the campaign.

Hogg said Ness understands the complexity of the city's issues.

Stauber said Ness is a man with true integrity.

"Why choose Don instead of anyone else?" asked Stewart, who is not seeking re-election. "Because he is the most qualified and has the best demeanor for the job. He is a consensus-builder and great on following through. And he's great at coming up with creative solutions for problems."

It's not unusual in Duluth for city councilors to back a certain candidate for mayor. First District Councilor Laurie Johnson, who is up for re-election, has been a vocal supporter of Gilbert's. They are both endorsed by labor and progressives as well.

But 4th District Councilor Garry Krause said he feels it's inappropriate for city councilors to choose sides.

"Whoever wins, I have to work with them," said Krause, who said no one asked him for his endorsement. "I don't believe it's healthy for government. If the other person wins, I've already set up a negative work environment."

Fifth District Councilor Russ Stover also is up for

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re-election. He said he has his own campaign to worry about. Stover added that endorsing someone would put him in an awkward position personally as well as politically, because he considers many of the candidates to be his friends, including businessman and West Duluth activist Charlie Bell and Bergson, Gilbert and Ness.

At Large Councilor Tim

Little is busy with his own re-election campaign and has not endorsed a mayoral candidate.

"Frankly, I don't know how much value it has," he said.

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