DULUTH – Four of Duluth's nine City Council seats are on the ballot Nov. 2.

At stake are two at-large council seats that represent the whole city, and there's an open seat in the Second District, and an incumbent is facing a challenger in the Fourth District.

To find your polling place, click here.

The Star Tribune asked each candidate the following questions in advance of the August primary to help voters decide. Answers were edited for length. Candidates are listed alphabetically.

AT-LARGE

Azrin Awal

My family immigrated from Bangladesh when I was 3, and Minnesota is the only home I've ever known. My parents worked for several restaurants and grocery stores. As the oldest sibling I looked after my younger brother and sister and made sure they did their homework while my parents worked.

I came to Duluth to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth and fell in love with Duluth. I worked full time to pay my way through college and made the time to get involved. I founded the UMD chapter of the NAACP and now serve as a board member of the NAACP's Duluth chapter. I advocated for the Homeless Person's Bill of Rights, Superior Streets for All, and Arts for Activism. As a survivor, I've helped other sexual assault survivors through the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA). I've helped hire UMD campus police officers and I designed the UMD's officer training on bystander collaboration. I now work in the community as a youth advocate at Life House for homeless and at-risk youth and as a mentor program advocate for Mentor North connecting youth with mentors in our community. I am also finishing my degree in public health.

Why are you running?

I've experienced many of the challenges that Duluthians face first hand, and I want to make sure everyone in Duluth has the resources they need to thrive. As a first-generation college student I know what it is like to push through adversity. As a person who worked her way through college I know that people who are struggling don't necessarily look like they are struggling. As a student who never had enough money to live in the dorms I know Duluth's housing crisis, and what families have to do to keep a roof over their heads. I am running to raise the voices of all who are struggling to be heard in Duluth, and to honor the commitment to service my family instilled in me. Giving back to the community is in my blood.

What are the three biggest issues facing the city?

Access to safe and affordable housing, environmental sustainability, and racial and class equity are three of the biggest issues facing Duluth.

What specific policies do you plan to pursue to address those issues?

As a city councilor I will fight for direct investment in affordable housing and for city planning and policies that support affordable housing and development.

To be the city that we wish to be we must stand together as one community, regardless of our backgrounds, our identities, the neighborhoods we live in or what we do for a living. I will bring this lens to every decision I make as a city councilor.

We must protect our parks and natural areas, protect our water, and continue the cleanup of the St. Louis River. We must also take more aggressive action to address climate change. The City's declaration of a climate emergency was an important first step. I will push the City Administration to accelerate its work to decrease carbon emissions and to prepare for more extreme weather events.

What is the best way for voters to contact you?

You can find more information and contact me at www.voteazrin.com, and through social media at Azrin Awal for Duluth City Council At Large and @voteazrin.

Joe Macor

I'm 39 years old and my wife of 16 years, Holly, and I have three boys. Together, we own an adult foster care home caring for individuals with developmental disabilities. I have spent the last 21 years volunteering as a youth coach for Denfeld Junior Football League, where I currently serve as president. I am the founder and president of the Northland Youth Football Conference which spans throughout northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. I have also volunteered as an alpine ski coach for the past 11 years and am the Head Coach of the Duluth East and Denfeld boys and girls alpine ski teams. I am currently co-vice president of the Irving Community Club and sit on the board of the GND Development Alliance. Both serve as community organizations dedicated to enriching recreational facilities and programming for area youth. I am a 4th generation Duluthian and have lived here my entire life.

Why are you running?

I am running because I am invested in our community. I'm invested through my family, my business, and the community organizations with which I have been involved for over 20 years. I want to be a part of making Duluth not only successful right now, but also for my kids, and all future generations of Duluthians.

What are the three biggest issues facing the city?

The top three biggest issues facing Duluth right now include support for our public safety departments, addressing our aging infrastructure, and our commitment to economic development that will bring in well-paying, family-supporting jobs. Prioritizing and investing in these three areas will help all Duluthians.

What specific policies do you plan to pursue to address those issues?

Support for our public safety departments: With increasing retirements, call-loads, and violent crime, support for our public safety departments has never been more important. Duluth ranks one of the lowest for pay when compared to municipalities with similar populations and call loads. As a Councilor, I will be a strong advocate for the men and women serving in our public safety departments and ensure they have all the resources necessary to keep our communities safe.

Addressing our aging infrastructure: From roads to water and sewer, this should be a City Council priority. Investment in public works and prioritization of this department is imperative to maintain and repair these systems, giving residents peace of mind.

Economic development and family-supporting jobs. Duluth must gain long-term financial sustainability by focusing on economic development and encouraging new and growing businesses. Economic expansion will help jump-start local small businesses and give men and women opportunities for well-paying, family-sustaining jobs. A community that is economically diverse increases job opportunities and housing access for all its citizens.

What is the best way for voters to contact you?

Voters can contact me by visiting our website at JoeMacor.com or our Facebook page. I can also be reached by phone at 218-390-3847 or by e-mail at duluth@joemacor.com.

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Tim Meyer

I am 59 years old, originally from Little Falls, Minnesota. I am divorced and have a son who is 5 years old and just finished Pre-K. I attended both St. Cloud State University for Pre-Engineering and North Dakota State University where I have two degrees in architecture. I have been an Architect for 34 years. I moved to Duluth in 1990 and have lived here for 31 years. I have had numerous volunteer involvements where I served in the recreational, educational and professional sectors. I have also served on four city commissions in the city of Duluth including the Duluth Public Arts Commission, Downtown Waterfront Design Review Committee, City of Duluth Heritage Preservation Commission and two terms on the Planning Commission, with my last term ending this past April. I have also served two terms on our professional association of architects as President of AIA Northern Minnesota and served twice on the AIA Minnesota Board of directors. I am also a small-business owner, starting my company Meyer Group Architecture in 2009 from scratch at the bottom of the last recession.

Why are you running?

I am like a lot of people who have decided to get more politically involved following this past year, which included the pandemic and social unrest. I have a son who is multiracial and I want to help control the kind of world I would like him to grow up in. I also feel that the current City Council has lost sight of doing the city's business, lacks support for the business community and needs to get back to improving the quality of life for all Duluthians.

What are the three biggest issues facing the city?

Economic diversification: I believe that the need to diversify our economy to add more focus on industrial, manufacturing and technology jobs, higher paying jobs. Duluth has done a great job on recreation and tourism, we now need to place a focus on adding other sectors.

Housing: Develop more housing options in Duluth, as well as other tiers of housing — affordable, mid-level and high-end housing.

Infrastructure: Replacing our streets and upgrading our aging infrastructure.

What specific policies do you plan to pursue to address those issues?

Economic diversification: Refocus our economic development efforts to recruit more industrial, manufacturing and technology business to the city of Duluth. To work with our current manufacturers and technology businesses to see what possibilities they have to expand and what is needed to create conditions to assist them with expansion.

Housing Development: To stop issuing requests for proposals to housing developers and look to actively recruit housing developers to invest in Duluth. To work with them to incentivize this development through land, utility extensions and tax deferments.

Infrastructure replacement: In addition to use of the city's 0.5% sales tax funds earmarked for street replacement, lobby our state Legislature for funding for a one-time replacement of aging residential streets and sewer and water lines. Explore possible use of private funding and performance contracting to attempt to upgrade city buildings and service through private investment.

What is the best way for voters to contact you?

E-Mail: tim.meyer@meyergroupduluth.com. Phone: (218) 590-1977. Facebook Page. Website.

Terese Tomanek — Incumbent

I am a St. Paul native. I attended UMD and fell in love with Duluth, knowing I would want to open my business and raise a family here. My husband Steve Davis and I have been married for 40 years, owned a home here and raised our adult children, Marc and Hallie in this family-friendly city. I am a senior citizen and have had several professional careers, first as a chiropractor and now serving as a chaplain at Essentia Health. In my early years, I was a cashier at a grocery store and was a mail carrier. I am an ordained minister and served as an interim pastor in Babbitt, Minn., and was the chaplain at The Hills, a juvenile residential treatment center. I have served on many boards and commissions: the Duluth Human Rights Commission, the YWCA board, the Earned Sick and Safe Time task force, the Duluth Library Advisory Board, and Friends of the Duluth Library. I currently serve as the President of the Lake Superior Foundation Board, am on the Area Regional Development Council (ARDC) and the Duluth Public Utilities Commission. I chair the City Council Intergovernmental Relations Committee, and I serve on the boards of the Great Lakes Aquarium, Glensheen Mansion, and Duluth Sister Cities International. I am a member of the Duluth NAACP and the League of Women Voters.

I have played an active role in the goals of our city, having served on the Council for a year after being unanimously appointed by my fellow councilors in June 2020.

Why are you running?

I am running to serve my community with the life experience I have gathered including running a successful small business, serving on many boards and commissions, raising a family and being active in helping our city thrive. I am able to listen carefully, and I work to make careful, informed decisions, incorporating all the conversations I have had and research I have done. I know how to collaborate with people from many sectors of the community as shown through my work in co-authoring and passing many ordinances on the Council.

What are the three biggest issues facing the city/What specific policies do you plan to pursue to address those issues?

Duluth is a city poised to grow and thrive in the coming years while maintaining its feeling of community and its inviting environment. In order to do that, we must increase our housing stock, including affordable housing, housing for seniors, apartments large and small, starter homes for young families and rehabbing our existing homes. We must be a business-friendly environment for new and existing businesses, both large and small. The city is doing that by recommending nearly $3 million dollars of our American Rescue Plan money be used to assist small businesses, tourism and industries that were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and for workforce development. We must support our families by encouraging the growth of child care opportunities and accessible, affordable broadband for all our residents.

What is the best way for voters to contact you?

Voters can contact me by e-mail at ttomanek@duluthmn.gov for city issues; TereseforDuluth@gmail for campaign issues. Facebook. Website. Phone: 218-216-9126

DISTRICT 2

Mike Mayou

Growing up in Duluth, I have come to love our community, the immediate access we have to Lake Superior, and our amazing natural spaces, including our systems of parks and trails. As a proud graduate of Duluth East High School and the University of Minnesota Duluth, and as an employee of the Duluth Public Schools and also UMD, I am committed to Duluth and working alongside fellow members of our community to push for positive change and advocate for justice.

Why are you running?

I'm running because we must ensure that everyone in our city can thrive. At this turning point in our nation's history, we need representatives in our local, state and federal government who will speak the truth, advocate for all of us and introduce fresh ideas about ways to address the crises we face. My experience as an involved community member, the relationships I've built inside and outside of City Hall, and my passion for the work it takes to make our community better make me the right person to represent the Second District on the Duluth City Council.

What are the three biggest issues facing the city?

Affordable housing, climate justice, and creating a fair economy for working people.

What specific policies do you plan to pursue to address those issues?

Affordable Housing: The private housing market has failed to meet the needs of lower- and middle-income people. I am a strong advocate for the continuation and potential expansion of programs such as Rebuild Duluth, which is a partnership between Duluth HRA and DEDA to give developers with the best affordable housing proposals infill lots for free. At Mayor Larson's 2021 State of the City Address, I was excited and encouraged to hear that our city will be creating an affordable housing trust fund, which I believe is a great step in the right direction to start addressing the affordable housing crisis we are facing. As a city councilor, I would be a strong advocate for growing that trust fund and creating stability in its funding sources for years to come.

Climate Justice: In Duluth in particular, I would be a strong advocate for working with our publicly owned utility, Comfort Systems, to push for a requirement that new builds not use gas as the primary source of heat, while offering incentives to do so. Working with partners like One Roof and others, there is great potential for the city to help residents afford to convert some of these old homes to meet and exceed our energy efficiency standards today. We must also accelerate the work that is already underway to reduce the city's own carbon footprint and exceed our goals of 80% renewable energy by 2050

Creating a Fair Economy for Working People: To help address some of the growing inequities throughout our city, I would strongly advocate for and cosponsor an ordinance to increase the minimum wage in Duluth to a living wage, or at least $15/hour. I would also hold recipients of city economic development aid to a high standard regarding wages, job creation and the continued use of project labor agreements for our union workers citywide.

What is the best way for voters to contact you?

Voters can visit our website at mayouduluth.org and e-mail me or members of my campaign team at mike@mayouduluth.org or info@mayouduluth.org. Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Dave Zbaracki

I am 38, a fifth-generation Duluthian. I am an East and UMD graduate with a degree in political science and history. I am a full-time dad to my children, Adam, 7, and Catherine, 10. Prior to getting married, I worked full-time in the ski industry as a coach and instructor. I currently work part-time in ski and bike sales and have been a volunteer ski and mountain bike coach. I am also continually active in the music ministry at my church as a cantor and choir member. I have volunteered on several labor-endorsed campaigns in the last few years, including serving as a campaign manager. I also did an internship prior to college with the city of Duluth Department of Planning and Development. My wife, Anne, is a physician and has been a member of the 148th Fighter Wing for over 25 years. She is a flight surgeon at the rank of Major and is also an Iraq War veteran.

Why are you running?

My campaign slogan is "Let's build a better Duluth." That starts with better neighborhoods. We need walkable, cohesive neighbors with accessible streets for all users. We need a better economy with family-sustaining jobs. And we need a better government. We must broaden our tax base so we can fully fund public safety, as well as street and sidewalk repair.

What are the three biggest issues facing the city/What specific policies do you plan to pursue to address those issues?

Housing, aging infrastructure, and public safety are probably the most pressing issues for Duluth right now, among others.

Housing is tough. Duluth is no different that many communities across the country in terms of a lack of affordable housing. Current costs for construction far outpace the price of affordable housing. Solving the problem would require massive federal investment, but we can do smaller things like attach incentives to developers to build affordable units in exchange for tax-increment financing.

Aging infrastructure requires broadening our tax base so we can get more revenue, but it also means having a plan. One example is when I lived in Waterloo, Iowa, for three years where my wife did her residency in family medicine. They have a 10-year revolving plan to address sidewalk repair for the entire city. The city is divided up into 10 different zones, and one zone is addressed every year. We can do something similar here.

Public safety is a huge priority as well. Our fire department is still a few firefighters short of national staffing standards at a few fire halls in town. They also have a paltry training budget of $7,500. We can do better. Our police department currently has the lowest recruiting numbers they have ever had. Most Duluthians want a strong police force while having strong police accountability. They do not have to be mutually exclusive. We need councilors and candidates who reflect those values.

What is the best way for voters to contact you?

I have a Facebook page where I share most of my candidate information. I also have a website, davezforduluth.org, or you can e-mail me at davezforduluth@gmail.com.

DISTRICT 4

Howie Hanson

66. Wife Beth, children Ben and Emily. Print journalist and Fourth District Duluth City Councilor, 2014-17. I served on several boards throughout the years, including the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, Great Lakes Aquarium, Salvation Army and various youth sports associations. Former college and high school athlete, including all-conference baseball outfielder in college. Duluthian since 1974, and currently reside in the Parkwood development in Piedmont Heights

Why are you running?

The city of Duluth has raised its share of the local property tax levy in the last six years. This year saw a 2.98% increase, 2020 an 8.46% increase, 2019 an 11.25% increase, 2018 a 10.19% increase, 2017 a 17.65% increase, and 2016 a 7.68% increase, according to the city of Duluth's approved budgets. This is on top of annual tax levy increases by St. Louis County and the Duluth public schools. This is unsustainable. We can do better, Duluth. We must do better.

What are the three biggest issues facing the city?

Unprecedented tax increases, a major shift away from providing basic city services such as police and fire and an overwhelming loss of community pride during Mayor Emily Larson's first six years in office. Fourth District Duluth City Councilor Rene Van Nett has been coached to be a rubber-stamping agent for Larson's ultra-socialist agenda.

What specific policies do you plan to pursue to address those issues?

Continue to demand transparency from the Larson administration, as I did in my previous four years serving the hardworking people of the Fourth District. Nearly every vote is 9-0, and many potentially controversial votes are intentionally hidden in the consent agenda. I will continue to vote "yes" for budgetary increases for police. We must invest in and empower our police department men and women to do their job, not take the guns out of their holsters.

What is the best way for voters to contact you?

Best contact: 218.940.5200, Duluth@aol.com and Facebook.com/HowieHanson. Voters can call or e-mail any time.

Renee Van Nett — Incumbent

It has been my honor to serve as your councilor and represent the Fourth District as your current Council President for the year 2021.

I am a single mom of two sophomores at Denfeld High School and I work for Head of the Lakes United Way as the Impact Director. I am 51 years old, I have lived in Duluth since the age of 10, I have a bachelor's degree from Concordia University St. Paul in Organizational Management and communications. I have a large family in the Duluth area; we are members of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. I have extensive experience in volunteer board and city commissions. I founded a nonprofit called Cross Cultural Alliance of Duluth, I served on city commissions such as the Indigenous Commission, the Citizen Review Board and the Civil Service Board. I have served on nonprofit boards such as the Damiano Center, Lincoln Park Children and Family Collaborative, and the workforce development board. I serve on Community Action Duluth equity committee and workforce development board on the equity committee. I currently volunteer at Life House in creating a culture programs for the youth.

Why are you running?

As the district councilor, I have learned through working with the people I represent that the districts needs are "nuts and bolts" work. I think and talk about City Council work that is more holistic then just one specific subject or item. We work on everyday-people needs such as housing, public safety, streets, jobs, homelessness, our housing stock and taxation to name a few, while working to balance a budget that fits the needs of Duluthians, the business community as well as the taxpayer.

What are the three biggest issues facing the city/What specific policies do you plan to pursue to address those issues?

The top three topics I am focused on are Public Safety, economic development and housing.

I spoke up where issues of housing were a concern. I am advocating for all types of housing needs in the district from 75-unit developments to the homeless community with the All Nations Indigenous Center yurt initiative.

I give my full support for the district's public safety needs. I was committee chair of public safety, and in that work I advocated for our fire department in areas such as diversifying the department and training facilities and budget discussions. The police department needs are similar but different. I advocate for community-based policing, budget and policy strengthening for the protective gear, for the health and wellness for our community members and police officers, while assuring that our community members are safe and that the police department shows up when needed.

There are many ways to think about economic development. I think about economic development in terms of job creation, be it by supporting local businesses so they feel seen and heard and/or nonprofits who employ our community and families. In my day job I serve on the Workforce Development board, and we are working on strengthening the diversity and inclusion aspect of growing the tax base by helping one person at a time get a job and keep it despite their background, race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status or who you love. Everyone deserves a job that feeds their families and gives them hope and pride.

What is the best way for voters to contact you?

Please see reneevannett.com. I would be happy to hear from you! Phone: 218-343-2602. E-mail: reneeforduluth@gmail.com Address: 216 W. Central Entrance Duluth MN, 55811