On Sunday, June 28th, 2020 Mayor Larson of Duluth wrote a letter to her constituents asking them to let everything go. Instead of holding our elected officials accountable, Mayor Larson asked Duluth citizens to enjoy some sun and fresh air as if that will solve the city’s problems. Mayor Larson said that she uses this “letting go” strategy herself and says, “it’s just letting yourself off the hook to fix all of it on your own, all at once.”
This may be news to Mayor Larson, but she’s the mayor of a city – as mayor, it is actually her job to fix all of it on her own, all at once. Its quite literally why she was elected. The citizens of Duluth cannot just “let go” and must not let Mayor Larson off the hook.
Throughout her tenure as Mayor, Larson has not experienced much adversity. Then 2020 came along and introduced Mayor Larson to more adversity than she can apparently handle. While she hid in her home and communicated to the city via Google Meet, Zoom, or whatever video service she chose to use, the rest of us were out in our communities, trying to make the best of a bad situation. Mayor Larson seemed to only care about whatever pet project she had going on at the time. Chief of Police wants to have a parade in the middle of a pandemic? Fine, no problems there even though it flies in the face of the Governor’s executive order. Veterans want to have their Memorial Day parade to honor those veterans who have given their all for our country? Nope, too dangerous and we can’t possibly allow it. Oh wait, people want to have a protest? Better draft a statement of support, there are votes to be gained here. Essentia needs to shut down several roads for a year or more for their massive expansion? Wonderful, we’ll shut down any road they want no matter how inconvenient it is for Duluthians. Stores and restaurants want to shut down some roads for outdoor seating areas so they can actually make a living and pay their employees? Absolutely not, we’ve got a city to run here. This isn’t just hypocrisy, this is bad leadership.
As crazy as this year has been, 2020 has opened the eyes of Duluthians to the problems that plague our city. We have homeless people running downtown, and running anybody out that wants to make downtown about businesses again. Downtown Duluth has always had some interesting goings-on, but it wasn’t until Mayor Larson’s tenure that people had to step over used needles in order to get into businesses downtown or even their homes. As Real Stories North pointed out, the heart of this problem lies with CHUM and their inability to keep our community safe while carrying out their mission. Is it a coincidence that Mayor Larson worked for CHUM for 12 years before her bid for mayor? While downtown is crumbling, so are the city’s streets. There are streets in West Duluth that would be better off being dirt roads at this point – at least it wouldn’t cost the city any money to grade them every few months or so – but the Lakewalk and bike paths that are used a few months of the year MUST take priority. The city’s finances are in ruins, partly because of COVID-19 and partly because the city has never been good at managing money, but the mayor is more concerned with the job titles of some of her employees or what color the bridge is lit up with. This isn’t just bad leadership, its incompetence.
It should be clear that Mayor Larson is in over her head, but sadly her friends at the Duluth News Tribune keep doing stories about CHUM power couples instead of telling Duluthians how things really are. It is sad to see that this administration was able to destroy a once-great city in such a short period of time. Duluth had many great mayors in the past such as Don Ness and Gary Doty that were able to bring both sides to the table and keep the city functioning. Mayor Larson seems to have only brought the special interest groups to the table and given them the keys to the city. So the next time your car breaks on a pothole, the next time you’re accosted by a panhandler, the next time you have to stop your kid from picking up dirty needles at the park, or the next time you’re not able to celebrate your freedoms, remember who’s in office and how they’ve made the problems worse. Come the next election, Duluth can do better. Honestly, Duluth must do better in order for this city to be as great as it once was.