When difficult decisions confront our city and our elected officials, experience matters. For well over a year, we have struggled through a pandemic that has taxed our resources, our budgets, and our coping skills. The City Council has had to decide how to balance our budget while keeping our residents, employees, and visitors safe.
Facing a shortfall in tourism-tax dollars, I helped make difficult decisions on where to allocate resources. This is where experience matters. My background in owning a successful small business for over 16 years, serving as president of a 1,400-member professional organization (the Minnesota Chiropractic Association), and serving as current president of the Lake Superior College Foundation — in addition to my tenure on City Council — has given me the experiences to balance the needs of many while maintaining fiscal responsibility. I know how to analyze a budget, work to make necessary changes, and act on it to make informed, often-difficult, decisions.
Experience matters, and so do relationships.
When a difficult decision was presented to the council recently, I had dialogue with business owners, police, clergy, city administration, fellow councilors, the head of the Greater Downtown Council, the executive director of CHUM, and many other nonprofit organizations in our city. I developed these relationships over many years as a chaplain, city councilor, board member, and community advocate. Dialogue with these community partners helped me formulate the best decision I could for our city. Input from concerned citizens is required for our city leaders and the decisions we make, to reflect the values and vision of our residents.
Relationships matter and are built on listening. As my husband can tell you, I spend countless hours out in the community to connect, listen, and learn. An example is the Morgan Park UMD Land Lab Produce Giveaway, where I learned more about food deserts in our neighborhoods. Another is the trails in Lincoln Park, where I discussed the future of our parks with a concerned neighbor.
The privilege of being a public servant carries with it the responsibility of investing the time and energy to really listen to the concerns of the people you serve. Hearing what is on peoples’ minds is the most important part of my work as a councilor, and I consider all of what I’ve learned in making a decision.
I value the term “progressive pragmatist” that former Mayor Don Ness used when describing my work. Seeing to the city’s business while advancing the needs of our community members is what makes for good working relationships and the ability to move the city forward as a whole.
Experience, relationships, listening: these are the qualities I bring to the position of city councilor at large. I am grateful for the many endorsements from unions, the DFL, and fellow public servants I have worked with in areas such as public utilities, economic development, housing, broadband, and the equitable distribution of federal funds. I hope to talk with you about your issues of concern.
(You can find out more about my work and find my contact information at TereseforDuluth.com and the Facebook page, “Terese for Duluth City Council.”)
Terese Tomanek is an incumbent running for one of two open At Large seats on the Duluth City Council. She wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page. Election Day is Nov. 2.