DULUTH — Duluth elected three new faces to the City Council, including the city’s first African-American council member, Janet Kennedy.
“I’m excited we were able to win this,” she said. “I am proud of my campaign team, my family and all the voters out there who really saw the vision and really wanted to move forward.”
Voters also elected two incumbents back to power in the citywide battle for a majority of the council’s nine seats.
But the council’s current president, Noah Hobbs, was defeated in his at-large race.
Turnout among the city’s 66,204 registered voters was about 33%.
Political newcomer Derek Medved and incumbent Arik Forsman won the four-way race for two seats representing the entire city — ousting Hobbs in the process.
“To win an upset like this, I am truly blessed and humbled,” said Medved, who owns and operates several convenience stores including the Gary Milk House. “There’s no possible way to explain how thankful I am for the community’s support, love and kindness. This may be an exciting time, but the work is just getting started.”
Hobbs, seeking a second term, said he was disappointed in the result but proud of the work he accomplished in the past four years and will continue through the end of the year.
“I’m going to finish strong being as honest and transparent as I have been in the past four years,” Hobbs said.
Forsman, an economic development representative with Minnesota Power, was appointed to the council to replace Elissa Hansen after she stepped down last year. This was his first time facing election.
“All those things we talked about during the campaign — child care, housing, good-paying jobs, investing in our streets — it goes beyond rhetoric now and gets to results,” he said. “It’s time to get refocused on the work at hand and make people’s lives better.”
With all precincts reporting Tuesday night, Medved had 9,068 votes, Forsman 8,972 and Hobbs 8,717. Mike Mayou, a University of Minnesota Duluth student who ran with the backing of the DFL, took fourth with 7,869 votes.
Among the 21,767 ballots cast, more than 7,500 either didn’t vote for any candidates in the at-large race or only voted for one candidate.
Gary Anderson won his second term representing the city’s easternmost neighborhoods, overcoming a challenge from local Republican activist Becky Hall.
“I’m excited to have a campaign done and really just get back to work,” Anderson said. “At the doors over and over again I met young families excited to be in Duluth. I just have the sense that the more housing we can build, the more families we can have here and that bodes well for our future.”
Anderson took about 60% of the vote.
Roz Randorf topped Theresa O’Halloran-Johnson to represent downtown Duluth, Park Point and the Central Hillside.
“I want to thank all the voters in the district — they were heard,” said Randorf, a corporate trainer with Dale Carnegie. “My promise is to listen to them and make sure their voice is strong in the city.”
Winning with 54% of the vote, she replaces Em Westerlund, who decided not to run for a second term.
Janet Kennedy became the city’s first black city councilor, defeating Jeanne Koneczny with 52% of the vote to represent Duluth’s westernmost neighborhoods.
Kennedy said she’ll be focused on housing, transportation, economic development, open spaces and “creating more community-centered investments in western Duluth.”