Editor's note: This text version of Mayor Emily Larson's State of the City address was provided to the News Tribune by the city of Duluth ahead of the mayor's speech at Myers-Wilkins Elementary School. I'd like to start by acknowledging the traditional Native inhabitants and custodians of the land, both past and present, on which we meet today — the Anishinaabe peoples and other Tribal Nations — prominently including the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa — and I want to pay my respects to ancestors before us and Elders with us today.
My husband Doug had surgery to remove a brain tumor. My stepfather died. And during the funeral and burial, Duluth was being walloped by yet another 100-year storm, with $20 million in damage. It was a painful, scary, exhausting, and unsettling week that second week in October. And yet, for what I learned, I wouldn't give it up for anything.
In contrast to the News Tribune's Oct. 24 endorsement editorial, "Housley offers a bit of balance," it's Sen. Tina Smith who we need in Washington. She works for the people of Minnesota — all people, from every corner of the state. Smith has worked across the aisle since day one to solve problems and get things done. When she heard from Minnesotans about the rising cost of health care and prescription drugs, she took on the pharmaceutical companies and introduced a bill that lowers the cost of medicine by holding them accountable for unfair practices.
When I think about how we move Minnesota forward, we need a governor who listens to the concerns of people wherever they live and who will work everyday to build and serve communities across the state. We need a nurse who can stitch us back together, a passionate leader who is clear about her values, and a fighter who will put Minnesotans first. Despite the News Tribune's endorsement for one of her opponents in Tuesday's DFL gubernatorial primary, that person is Erin Murphy.
Three years ago, I laid out my vision of Duluth in my first State of the City address, a vision shaped through thousands of conversations with Duluth residents. Together we set on a course to achieve that vision and build a healthy, prosperous, sustainable, fair, and inclusive community for all neighbors and across all neighborhoods.
This year we accomplished some big things, Duluth.
Duluth is a long, slender city — 26 miles west to east, to be exact. It's a challenging distance when it comes to providing city services such as police and fire protection, bus transportation, and snow plowing. Most cities of our population are packed into a more-compact geography. But this is how our city was formed, as a stopping place with settlements, villages, townships, and neighborhoods, stretching out fully along Lake Superior and the St. Louis River.
Our parks system is one of our biggest treasures and resources. Increasingly, the city of Duluth is working to ensure fair citywide access to our parks and trails so all neighbors, and neighborhoods, can benefit. There has been a lot of conversation around our parks and trails recently, which fortunately creates the perfect opening to share with Duluth our deep and abiding financial and programming commitment to ensure access to outdoor and after-school recreational opportunities for youth across our city.
I'm looking forward to delivering my second State of the City address at 6 p.m. Monday at Lincoln Park Middle School, and I invite everyone to attend. It has been a busy year, and I'm enormously proud of the foundations we've laid and the relationships and partnerships we've built.
On Jan. 4, I walked into my office for the first time, sat at an empty desk and wondered where to start. Within five minutes I was off and running. It has been that way ever since. From buildings to budgets and from streets to snowplowing, we’ve gotten good work done together in 2016.