How Duluth voted in its 2019 city elections

Duluth held its city elections for its mayor, city council seats and school board Tuesday and the results are in.

More than 20,000 people — or 33% of those registered — voted in Duluth this year. Though that’s 10 percentage points below turnout for 2015, when mayoral elections were last held, roughly the same amount of ballots were cast both years.

It’s a sign that Duluth’s voting rolls have grown — by more than 16,000 registered voters in the last four years.

Incumbents fared pretty well in Tuesday’s contests, but Duluth will also see a number of fresh faces taking elected office this January. Here’s a breakdown of the results, showing how the city voted this year.


Duluthians boosted Emily Larson to a second term at the city’s helm Tuesday, but her victory was a little narrower than her first run for mayor. In 2015, Larson won each of the city’s 34 precincts and 72% of the total vote. This time around, challenger David Nolle siphoned off four precincts and more popular support than Larson’s first opponent — though not enough to prevent the mayor from soundly securing another four years in office.

Candidate Votes PCT
Emily Larson * 13,340 63.7%
David Nolle 7,509 35.8%

City Council At-Large

Duluth voters could mark two names on their ballots who they thought should fill the pair of at-large council seats up for election. That made for a close race between the four men vying for the spots, with each candidate earning close to a quarter of the citywide vote.

Political newcomer Derek Medved ended up capturing the most voters in Duluth’s western precincts, as well as the highest percentage of the popular vote. Incumbent Arik Forsman drew stronger support in east Duluth and earned the second most popular votes by a margin of 255 votes. Current City Council president Noah Hobbs — who narrowly lost his shot at a second term — and challenger Mike Mayou were right in the fight for voters across Duluth, faring particularly well in a few of the city’s central districts.

Candidate Votes PCT
Derek Medved 9,068 26.1%
Arik Forsman * 8,972 25.8%
Noah Hobbs * 8,717 25.1%
Mike Mayou 7,869 22.6%

City Council District 1

In Duluth’s easternmost district, residents chose Gary Anderson to serve another four years on the City Council. The incumbent’s progressive platform ultimately gave him a decisive win over challenger Becky Hall.

Candidate Votes PCT
Gary Anderson * 3,630 60.6%
Becky Hall 2,349 39.2%

City Council District 3

After Em Westerlund, the council member representing the district covering downtown Duluth and Canal Park, decided not to seek a second term, political newcomers began to throw their hats into the ring. Randorf snagged the most votes in the August primary for the seat and did the same Tuesday, propelling her to her first public office.

Candidate Votes PCT
Roz Randorf 1,637 54.6%
Theresa O'Halloran-Johnson 1,356 45.2%

City Council District 5

After mounting unsuccessful City Council campaigns in 2015 and 2017, Janet Kennedy edged out challenger Jeanne Koneczny in a contest for the city’s westernmost district Tuesday to become Duluth’s first African-American council member. She will fill the seat currently held by three-term incumbent Jay Fosle, who did not seek reelection.

Candidate Votes PCT
Janet Kennedy 2,125 52.2%
Jeanne Koneczny 1,930 47.4%

School Board At-Large

Alanna Oswald, the school board’s current clerk, defeated challenger John Schwetman to earn a second term at a time when the school board faces a number of big decisions, including the hiring of a new superintendent.

Candidate Votes PCT
Alanna Oswald * 10,528 54.4%
John Schwetman 8,667 44.8%

School Board District 2

Current board member David Kirby handily earned a victory over Harry Welty, who formerly served on the school board. This will be Kirby’s second term.

Candidate Votes PCT
David Kirby * 3,100 66.1%
Harry Welty 1,563 33.3%

School Board District 3

With the district up for grabs after current member Nora Sandstad decided not to seek reelection, the third district school board race saw two fresh faces vying against each other. Sandholm, a former teacher in Duluth, squeaked a win over challenger Loren Martell.

Candidate Votes PCT
Paul Sandholm 2,590 53.6%
Loren Martell 2,214 45.8%