Don Ness was elected mayor in 2007 from a field of 12 candidates. Four years into the job, Mayor Ness had an 86% job approval rating according to the 2011 National Citizen Survey. He was re-elected in 2011, becoming the first mayor to run unopposed since Duluth was incorporated in 1887.
Mayor Ness entered into office just as the national recession began. His administration decided to take on some of the most difficult legacy problems facing Duluth. Adopting the slogan “Own it, Solve it,” city staff take pride in solving the toughest issues facing the community. A sampling of first term accomplishments is listed below.
For his second term, Mayor Ness has set a goal for the City of Duluth to reach 90,000 residents by 2020 - a goal that would reverse 70 years of population decline and stagnation.
"Duluth is ready to grow," said Mayor Ness. "There is an emerging sense of optimism and pride in our city. Duluth features world class outdoor opportunities, an impressive art scene, strong traditional neighborhoods, and a new, vibrant entrepreneurial culture. There is something special happening here that’s tough to explain, but it’s real and it’s exciting to be part of it."
Ness graduated from UMD in 1997 with a degree in Business Administration and is currently working on a MBA degree at the College of St. Scholastica. Prior to becoming mayor, he served on the City Council for eight years, including two as Council President.
Don and his wife Laura have three children: Eleanor, James, and Owen. They live in the Hillside neighborhood of Duluth.