Serving as the 1st District Duluth city councilor for the past three and a half years has been one of the greatest honors and one of the most challenging roles of my life. I’ve worked very hard to listen to all sides of debates and to weigh options carefully, after much dialogue with my neighbors, colleagues, and city staff, to make decisions that are best for the 1st District and the whole city.
I have been accessible and responsive to district residents who have called on me for help with issues that directly impact our daily quality of life: Can we get this pothole patched? When is our street going to be plowed? How do I deal with this problem with my neighbor? What do I do about water runoff in my yard?
My top priority has been to develop relationships and communicate openly and honestly with constituents, fellow councilors, and department heads so we can get things done together.
Here are just a few of the important results of our collaborative work: creating a handicapped parking spot by the Lakeside post office; bringing together citizens, businesses, and county and city staff to develop the best plan for the Woodland Avenue reconstruction; providing tourism-tax dollars for Hawk Ridge, which brings people from around the world to Duluth; creating a Brighton Beach mini master plan so this beautiful green space continues to be one of the favorite gathering spots in our region; and working with Independent School District 709 to install the signed and lit crosswalk at East High School for the safety of our students, parents, and staff. These projects and more have been the focus of my daily efforts as your city councilor.
The other key aspect of my work has been to create policies that make a difference to the people of Duluth. I have listened to all sides of issues, often setting up special meetings with citizens, public-safety officials, key business leaders, project developers, and many others. A prime example of my collaborative leadership is the final version of the Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance, which passed with a strong majority. On the far ends of the debate were advocates who wanted Duluth to have the toughest ordinance in the country and some business leaders who felt that any ordinance would be government overreach. Other citizens took a wide range of positions. I listened to them all, and, in the end, I helped steer the council to an ordinance that will bring benefits to those who need it most while also not overburdening Duluth business owners.
Accessibility to and transparency in local government have been strong themes for my council work. I have participated with the mayor in City Hall in the City. I am working to see that Imagine Duluth 2035 comes to life. I worked with Keep Glenwood Safe to ensure its voices went into the final plan for street realigning. I am continuing to listen to all voices related to the possible redevelopment of the Lester Park Golf Course, especially to the members of Keep Lester Green, golfers, concerned neighbors, and housing advocates.
Looking ahead, I am excited to work toward the goal of affordable housing for all in Duluth, to address the skyrocketing cost of health care and its effect on our city budget, and to ensure we are doing everything we can to mitigate the effects of climate change and preserve our environment for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I respectfully ask the people of the 1st District to re-elect me their city councilor on Nov. 5 so I can continue to move our great city in the right direction.
Gary Anderson is the incumbent District 1 representative to the Duluth City Council. He wrote this at the request of the News Tribune Opinion page. Election Day is Nov. 5.