Larry Sillanpa

In very low voter turnout all of the Duluth AFL-CIO Central Labor Body-endorsed candidates in the Sept. 15 Primary Election easily moved on to the Nov. 3 General Election.

Emily Larson received 67% of the vote to move on in her bid to become Duluth’s first woman mayor. Her seven opponents in the Primary received a total of 2,648 votes to her 5,456.

“Thank you voters! 67.32% of the vote, earned through months of hard work and engaging voters on issues and ideas that are important to them,” Larson said after her Primary win. “We’re not done either. We have been knocking doors and making phone calls to make the final push to November 3rd. The reality is, we couldn’t do this work alone. Thank you Labor for your support and everything you do! Thank you to all our supporters, our campaign team, volunteers, my husband, Doug, and our sons.”

In the General Election Larson will face Chuck Horton, who received 1,505 Primary votes. A tea party favorite, Horton has stated that he has been acting as de facto mayor already so he may as well take the job.

The only city council race in the Primary was western District 5. Labor-endorsed Janet Kennedy advanced but came in second in the Primary receiving 671 votes to incumbent Jay Fosle’s 945. Two other candidates totaled only 69 votes.

“Many thanks to labor for door knocking and phone banking during GOTV,” said Kennedy. “We were back on the doors the day after the primary election win, because we know there is a lot of work we need to get done to cross the finish line first on November 3rd. We definitely made a strong statement in the primary, and I thank everyone for the energizing support that is needed in district five. It is time connect our neighbors and work together to build the things we need for today and generations to come. I am excited to be moving forward with labor’s help because it’s time district five has a reliable, inclusive and respectable community leader that has built strong relationships, communicates, and works well with others to get the job done. I appreciate all the support.”

In the Duluth Public School (ISD #709) Board at-large race Labor-endorsed Renee Van Nett moved through the Primary with 3,351 votes. Her November opponent received 2,437.

In School Board District 2 Labor-endorsed David Kirby advanced with 1,044 votes to his November opponents 461 in the Primary.

“We ran an extremely effective Get Out The Vote campaign and engaged a lot of people around the importance of participating in our primary elections,” said Zach Sias, North East Area Labor Council Field Organizer, who is again leading Labor’s effort in this year’s elections. “Although all of our Labor endorsed candidates made it through, we need to keep up the momentum on the doors and on the phones to ensure we elect our labor champions on November 3rd. Please volunteer on Tuesdays or Wednesdays from 5-8. Volunteers can sign up for shifts at”

Only 8,404 people voted and some of them were in the townships that are part of the Duluth Public School system. The number was unusually low for Duluth, which traditionally has among the highest voter turnout in Minnesota.

Duluth voters will have a large ballot to look over for the Nov. 3 election. There are a total of ten contests and the Central Body has endorsed a candidate in each one.

Also on the ballot will be a question on whether or not voters want to change voting to a ranked choice system. Labor is urging a “no” vote on the question.

There will also be ballot questions on raising city councilors pay (a binding vote) and whether the Lakeside/Lester Park area should allow alcohol sales (non-binding).