Hartman says he will not run again for Duluth City Council
Four of nine seats on the Duluth City Council will be up for grabs this year, and few candidates have come forward so far.
Four of nine seats on the Duluth City Council will be up for grabs this year, and at least one incumbent has announced he will not seek re-election.
At-Large Duluth City Councilor Dan Hartman cited professional and family demands as his primary reasons for not making a second run for office during a Wednesday evening press conference. Last week, he was named interim director of the Glensheen Historic Estate in Duluth.
Hartman and his wife, Elizabeth, are parents of a twin son and daughter who are nearing age 2, and the former council president said he wants to spend more time with his young family.
“I don’t think it would be fair to the council for me to be giving it as little time as I could afford to give it right now,” he said.
But Hartman expressed no regrets about the time he has spent on the council
“Serving on the council is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life,” he said.
He also didn’t rule out a return to politics.
“I clearly love public service too much, and if it becomes possible again I would probably throw myself back in the ring again,” he said.
Council President Patrick Boyle announced May 9 that he will run for re-election in the city’s 2nd District.
If granted the opportunity to serve a second term, Boyle said he will focus on two major objectives: “No. 1, we need to come up with a better long-term solution for our streets. And No. 2, I will continue to support efforts to deal with the public health care issue we have due to synthetic drugs. I’m proud that we were the first city in the state of Minnesota to go after that horrible poison.”
At-Large Councilor Jim Stauber was not ready to announce his intentions Wednesday.
“I don’t know if I will seek a fourth term on the council, but I do know that I’m not done with politics,” he said.
Councilor Garry Krause, who represents Duluth’s 4th District, also wasn’t prepared to discuss his candidacy Wednesday.
“We all like to do our own press announcements” he said.
But Krause spoke positively of his recent experience in City Hall.
“I’m having a great time serving on the City Council,” he said. “It seems this council is more about doing the city’s business than tending to other things.”
The only other person who has openly shared his interest in running for Duluth City Council at this point is Brandon Clokey. He said he plans to make a formal announcement at 12:15 p.m. Friday at Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake.
This will be Clokey’s first run at a City Council seat, although he was briefly considered as a candidate to fill out a term on the Duluth City Council after Roger Reinert was elected to the Minnesota Legislature.
However, the council at the time ultimately tapped Gary Eckenberg to serve in that interim role instead.
Clokey tried unsuccessfully to unseat incumbent Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, in 2012, and he said supporters have encouraged him to run for City Council.
“I wholeheartedly believe Duluth is on a path to do wonderful things, and I’d like to have the opportunity to help determine what the next step should be,” Clokey said.
Stauber said it’s unusual to have so few announced City Council candidates by this late in the year.
“Usually, campaigns are wide-open by now, so I’m a bit surprised there has been so little interest,” he said. “It makes me wonder: Is the job so ugly that nobody wants it?”
Hartman offered another theory.
“I think many people in the public view that our mayor and our council are doing the work of the city. They know it’s not an easy job, but I think people feel that a lot of the decisions that need to be made are being made,” he said.
Hartman described the current council as “more boring” than many of its predecessors and suggested the lack of candidates could be a result.
“Because we’re not in the headlines all the time and because we’re not creating as much controversy, fewer people hear about us,” Hartman said. “What comes with that is that if people aren’t paying attention to the council, they’re not going to run for office.”
But Hartman noted that having an empty seat may generate additional interest in the City Council race this fall. Candidates must file between July 2 and July 16.