Duluth Mayor Don Ness - "Should I stay or should I go?"

By KBJR News 1

July 3, 2014 Updated Jul 3, 2014 at 9:50 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Duluth Mayor Don Ness alluded to his political future, or lack thereof, in a Facebook post Thursday morning.

In his post he says the decision of whether to run for re-election next year is starting to loom, and that he's still very undecided.

He says while he and his wife Laura have thought about an end of year decision, he's now feeling that the decision should be made earlier... maybe early fall.

In Mayor Ness' facebook post, he describes his indecision about running for another term, and points to his struggle to generate enthusiasm for the political side of the job.

"As time goes on and political dynamics come forward or you have conflict on the city council, or you have kind of negative cynical people out in the community... I just don't have the same type of patience for those types of dynamics as I have in the past," said Mayor Ness.

Mayor Ness says those political dynamics will always be part of the Mayor's role, but that he's self-assessing his ability to deal with them.

"It's a big decision."

Some city leaders say if the mayor decides against running again, they would be very sad to see him go.

"He's moved the city forward in ways that no one else has for in the past 20 years," said Duluth city councilor Sharla Gardner.

Gardner says it's easy to get swept up in the political side of the job, and that balance is important.

"It's important to stay grounded, and having a solid personal life and having solid relationships, and family life and friends," she said.

The mayor says if it were a two year commitment rather than four, he would feel differently.

"If it was a two year term coming up, I'd probably say, 'yeah I think I would do that,' but a four year term, there's just more variables, ya know thinking about the ages of my kids at the end of that term, thinking about ya know what will my energy and enthusiasm look like at the end of that," said Mayor Ness.

Ness does say he is enjoying the work of being Mayor as much as ever, but that people have been asking city officials what his plans for the future are, so it was time to let Northlanders know how he's been feeling.

The Mayor says that no matter which direction he takes he is looking forward to the journey.

He says if he runs again he's excited to seeing the many city projects that are underway to fruition... and if he doesn't run again he will look forward to living a more private life, spending more time with his children.

Thursday morning Mayor Ness posted the following on his social media site:

"It's a beautiful day in Duluth and it's going to be a great holiday weekend!

Now that we're half way through 2014, the decision of whether to run for re-election next year is starting to loom. I'm increasingly faced with projects that will continue into 2016 and beyond - which is a constant reminder of my own uncertainty. So while Laura and I have thought about an end of year decision, I'm now feeling we should make it earlier... maybe early fall.

Over the past year, I've always tried to postpone this discussion. Unfortunately, speculation and misinformation is now filling the void, which is especially frustrating. So, I can't avoid it any longer.

It's a tough decision. On one hand, I have never enjoyed the work more than right now. I love the people I work with and the projects I'm working on, especially the St Louis River Corridor vision. We've still got huge challenges, but we're making progress. We're seeing a surge in development interest this year and it feels like Duluth's reputation is improving.

While I love the work, I'm struggling to generate any enthusiasm for the political side of the job. I used to be able to just roll with the misinformation, negativity, cynicism, and council drama in order to keep an eye on the bigger picture. But it takes its toll and I'm afraid I may be losing patience for a really important part of the job. That's not a complaint; it's recognition of what's changing for me.

Turnover in the mayor's office is a healthy thing. There's no question that Duluth would benefit from a mayor who brought a different set of strengths and fresh energy to the job. If you do it right, it's not a job designed for longevity - you get stuff done and then you get out of the way. I have to admit, that's the way I'm leaning these days, but it's really hard to let go.

Regardless of our final decision, I'm especially excited for what's possible over the next 18 months and thankful I'll be part of that.

Have a happy and safe Fourth!"

Elsa Robins
erobins@kbjr.com