Editorial Board Endorsements

Robert Boone

Hello readers. The Reader has been reviewing politics for the better part of two decades. As usual, we held an editorial board meeting to consider the candidates that one might find on the Duluth area ballot when they vote. After several hours we came to some conclusions, 

2nd District City Councilor

Joel Sipress over Ryan Sistad

The Reader team decided to again unanimously endorse current City Council President Joel Sipress to continue on as 2nd District City Councilor. His opponent Ryan Sistad sounded promising but at age 23, seemed to lack the experience and fund of knowledge of history professor Sipress. The minor verbal gaffe that Sipress made a month ago was easy to over-look and the Reader team regarded it as a laudable sign of his passion for issues in which he deeply believes.

City Question

The lone “City Question” that is on the ballot this year proposes a city-wide 0.5% “sales and use” tax on goods and services for a term of not more than 25 years from its institution. The money collected will be dedicated to fund the Street Improvement Program (SIP). Given the many citizen complaints about potholes and deteriorating road surfaces around the city, the team understood the need for the city to tackle the problem. 

The team was not aware of any alternative funding proposals that the city may have considered for the SIP, but we did wonder if any of the root causes of road deterioration (and thus the rational prevention of future costly deterioration) had been discussed, such as heavy truck traffic on residential streets, excessive road salt applications, etc.

Given the obvious, somewhat urgent need for road repair, and trusting that the city had no other solution than increasing taxes, a clear majority of the committee voted to endorse the SIP.

The Reader’s endorsement committee was mostly in complete agreement when it came to City Councillor races. Mostly, being the operative word.

For City Councillor at Large, voters will select two from the list of four, with write-ins possible. 

The Reader endorses Janet Kennedy and Rich Updegrove as the two best choices, if only slightly over Zack Filipovich and Barbara A. Russ. The committee discussion centered around facing issues that might be immediately critical to our region, of which there are several. But perhaps the most critical in the next term is the political manipulation to hasten approval of  copper-nickel sulfide mining that could put our clean water, air and environment at risk. Dedicated support for the environment gave a slight edge to Kennedy and Updegrove, in our estimation.


City Councillor, Fourth District

Renee K Van Nett over
Howie Hanson

After considerable wrangling, the committee endorsed Renee K Van Nett over incumbent Howie Hanson, by a split decision. Van Nett offers a new view on Fourth District situations, which became an important factor in the endorsement.

Hanson has proven to be a dedicated member of the Council by standing up for his beliefs, which often challenged the apparent lockstep decisions for which the Council is often accused. The committee ultimately decided that Renee K Van Nett, along with offering a new voice for diversity, might also stand up when her principles cross paths with the flow of the political mainstream.

School District Races

The Reader’s School District 
endorsements share a 
common theme if you will.

The current Board routinely freezes out members Harry Welty and Art Johnston, seldom allowing them to introduce issues, and generally voting in a block against them. The previous Board routinely isolated Gary Glass in a similar fashion.

They have been treated as rabble-rousers and derisively dismissed as “still fighting the Red Plan”; and perhaps, to a degree they are. Certainly, we should move on and deal with today’s issues. However, it will be difficult to solve our districts problems if the majority of the Board behaves exactly like the previous Board that railroaded the Red Plan through come hell or high water. This Board and previous Boards of recent history act like they work for the Superintendent, rather than the other way around.

Recall the resounding silence from the Board when Superintendent Gronseth organized an opposition candidate to get rid of Johnston, when Johnston was last up for reelection.

Recall the resounding silence from the Board when Superintendent Gronseth’s wife was recently allowed to serve on the Duluth Federation of Teachers endorsement committee, in effect helping to choose her husband’s bosses. The glaring ethical lapse was blissfully ignored.

The Reader believes that it is time for  ISD 709’s Board to take control of their district, and hopefully, welcome ideas that might help solve the myriad problems, no matter the source. An arrogant “business as usual” philosophy for ISD 709 has been inadequate for many years now. It is time for real change. Our endorsements reflect this philosophy.

At Large: Harry Welty and 
Bogdana Krivogorsky

District 1: Kurt Kuehn
District 4: Art Johnston


The editorial board met with
Dr Gary Kohls, John Gilbert and
Robert Boone. Due to scheduling 
conflicts and weather the other 
board members were unable to