DULUTH — On Tuesday, Duluth overwhelmingly voted in moderate Democrat Roger Reinert as its next leader, while ushering out DFL-endorsed Mayor Emily Larson and her progressive agenda.

The new City Council reflects Duluth voters' shift to the right, with six of nine councilors now more centrist. Incumbents Arik Forsman and Janet Kennedy were re-elected and newcomers Lynn Nephew and Tara Swenson all defeated more liberal candidates, two of them endorsed by the DFL.

Forsman, who becomes the most senior councilor in January, sees a City Council that will likely prioritize basic city services like plowing and street repairs, housing and economic development.

"You just have to make hard choices about priorities. ... And this new group has relatively similar goals in mind and a vision for where the city goes next," he said.

Reinert campaigned on addressing what he said residents told him were the city's five biggest issues — maintaining roads, holding the line on property taxes, developing the commercial tax base, and improving housing and downtown safety. In his more than 2,000 group and one-on-one conversations with Duluthians, he said, he learned that many felt like they hadn't been heard "for a long time."

"You felt like what you were seeing and experiencing was not being recognized and there was a disconnect," he said in his victory speech at Lincoln Park's Clyde Iron Works. "And you were grateful that someone was willing to come and chat with you."

Larson, in her concession speech, said she and her team knocked on more than 18,000 doors and made 17,000 calls during her campaign.

"We leave this campaign completely exhausted," she said. "We left nothing undone."

Larson's campaign manager said she wasn't available for comment Wednesday and Reinert couldn't be reached.

University of Minnesota Duluth political science professor Cindy Rugeley doesn't expect a major divergence from one mayoral agenda to the next. Some of Reinert's and Larson's priorities are similar in that they both want to grow the tax base, fix streets and address housing issues. The one issue Rugeley is curious about is how Reinert will address the city's extensive climate work.

In a past interview, Reinert lauded city sustainability officer Mindy Granley and the grant money her work has brought to Duluth, saying the position was one he'd keep. But his first term would focus on infrastructure, he said, and if there was a second, he'd take on bigger issues.

Reinert said Tuesday night he hopes Larson's administration and the City Council consider the December levy vote, planned pandemic relief aid spending and Lester Park golf course land decisions in light of the election results. The proposed levy includes a 2% increase, although it won't be felt by most residents because of growth in the city's tax base.

What happened?

Larson's chances of winning a third term were likely hampered last winter when the city endured record, tough-to-plow snow, said Iron Range resident and journalist Aaron Brown, a frequent commentator on northeast Minnesota issues.

Reinert centered his campaign on the theme that Duluth needs to improve city-performed services like plowing instead of pet projects, Brown said, and "that was always the undercurrent of the popularity problems that Larson had from that point forward."

With 54% voter turnout, most of the 26-mile-long city went for Reinert, with Larson winning a handful of precincts in the center of Duluth.

During Reinert's victory speech, he said party attendees Tuesday night were liberal, conservative and moderate.

"That is what I've always been about," Reinert said. "I am willing to work with you where ever you are at."

Brown's sister attended a Reinert campaign event where "middle-of-the-road Democrats sipped their IPAs next to two guys with Trump hats," he said.

"And that's an odd coalition that Reinert pulled together," although it could change with varying city issues, Brown said. "The challenge will come when he has to start doing budgets. He had a little moment where he got away without having to take a really hard stance on things like spending versus keeping taxes low."

Rugeley said she wouldn't be surprised if the City Council becomes more active in its governance.

"I think a lot of people are wondering exactly what a Reinert administration means," Rugeley said. "Because honestly, this election was about whether or not they wanted to give Emily Larson a third term."