Duluth Mayor Emily Larson’s 2017 Outlook
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson has officially made it one year on the job as the city’s top leader.
Larson says she’s proud of a year full of creating, mending and building relationships.
But now for 2017, it’s time, she says, to really get work done.
“It’s like, phew, we got that done. Now we can actually start accelerating and getting even more done,” Larson said.
For Larson, 2016 was the year of appointing police and fire chiefs, rolling out a new open-door culture at city hall and finally fixing one rocky relationship with the Fond du Lac Band.
“So now we’ve done everything together this first year — me and you as a community. We’ve gone through it; we know how we work together. People have a sense of who I am. They have a sense of what leadership I bring and what my priorities are,” Larson explained.
And while those priorities for 2017 will be laid out in her State of the City address in March, we’re getting a first look now.
Larson is focusing in part on the following four issues – continued long-term reliable investments in street and other infrastructure while moving away from short-term patch work.
“That’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for me; it’s frustrating for our staff who are working hard to anticipate, and it’s really frustrating for the public,” Larson said.
Then on the cost-savings front, Larson will be unveiling a new multi-year energy plan for 2017.
“That will look to create both cost and energy savings for the city itself — the corporate city building and our many functions that we have,” Larson said.
The mayor would like to see a stronger city-focused approach to tackle the opioid crisis beyond drug busts by the Duluth Police Department.
“We are so successful and efficient when it comes to enforcement. But that is only part of the issue, part of the problem and part of the concern. The other part is usage and how do we interrupt that,” Larson said.
And finally, Larson is looking to close the gap between market-rate high-end housing, like the brand new Endi building on London Road, and affordable housing for people making $50,000 a year or less.
“To help make sure that hard work is getting rewarded with good, stable, reliable housing across the city — not just in some neighborhoods, but in every single neighborhood,” Larson said.
Meanwhile, outside of those four points, Larson’s administration will be narrowing in on revitalizing the Lincoln Park business district, the neighborhood there and the actual city park itself.
“One of our beautiful gems — a park that is in need of significant investment and a really important space for a neighborhood that needs green, beautiful open space for families and that sense of community,” Larson explained.
Plans call for this revitalizing to also continue into West Duluth in 2017, which is the second-highest sales tax district in the city, according to Larson.
And Larson believes there’s so much more the city can do to support the neighborhood and businesses there, as well as attract neighboring eyes.
“It’s also important for people who live in Superior and it’s very convenient. It’s the first point in and out for many people who come in and out of Esko,” Larson explained.
It’s a new year with new goals for Mayor Larson — all while keeping that open-door policy for a stronger city ahead.
“What people think we are doing well, what we are not doing well. What we can do better. What we can do smarter,” Larson said. “There are some wonderful opportunities coming up in this community. I’m very, very excited,”
One highlight for 2017 for Larson includes the eventual grand opening of the $30.5 million dollar NorShor Theatre.