Curious thing about one of the candidates this year for Duluth mayor: Donald Raihala doesn’t actually live in the city of Duluth. He lives in Proctor.
But not to worry, he insisted this week; he plans to move to Duluth by fall in plenty of time to be in compliance with the state statute that dictates the qualifications for candidacy. A house in the Duluth hillside that he used to visit often as a boy, owned by a dear friend of his mother’s, is soon to be “made available for him to purchase,” he indicated.
“I know the rules,” Raihala told the News Tribune Opinion page this week as a “Candidate’s View” column from him was being readied for publication.
But does he?
Raihala said that after researching, he was under the impression that he needs to move to within Duluth city limits at least 20 days ahead of the Nov. 5 general election in order to establish residency.
(The law doesn’t consider the Aug. 13 primary, and if Raihala doesn’t advance from the primary, it doesn’t matter politically when or whether he moves at all. His advancing is far from assured. He’s one of eight challengers to incumbent Mayor Emily Larson. Two move on from Primary Day to Election Day.)
The 20 days of residency is to become an eligible voter, which is what Raihala said he needs to be in order to also be an eligible candidate.
But “eligible to vote in the state of Minnesota” is only one criteria under “candidate qualifications” listed on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s “Election Administration and Campaigns” webpage. An eligible candidate also “must have maintained residence in their district for at least 30 days before the general election.”
Duluth City Clerk Chelsea J. Helmer also told the News Tribune Opinion page that at least 30 days of residency is required to be an eligible candidate. She said that if Raihala wins the election but fails to move in time, he wouldn’t be able to be sworn into office or take the seat.
Whether Raihala’s deadline to move from Proctor to Duluth is Oct. 16, like he feels, or Oct. 6, like the Duluth city clerk said and like the Minnesota Secretary of State's office seems to indicate, this already is shaping up to be a curious local election season.