Don Ness

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Don Ness
38th Mayor of Duluth
Assumed office
January 7, 2008
Preceded by Herb Bergson
Personal details
Born (1974-01-09) January 9, 1974 (age 40)
Duluth, Minnesota
Political party Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Spouse(s) Laura Ness

Don Ness (born January 9, 1974) is an American politician from Duluth, Minnesota, and the current mayor of this city. He is a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.


Early life and education[edit]

Ness was born in Duluth to Don and Mary Ness. His father was the pastor of a small, non-denominational Christian church, who also was Chaplin at Northwoods Children's Services. He was educated in Duluth's public school system, attending Central High School, then went on to the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), where he served as Student Body President in 1995-96, and as chair of the University-wide Student Senate in 1996-97. He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and was given the Sieur du Lhut Award for his service to the campus.

Community service[edit]

Ness has a history of active service to and involvement in the Duluth community. He founded the Bridge Syndicate, a group of young people whose mission is to increase civic, cultural, and economic opportunities in the Twin Ports. Ness was also festival director of the Homegrown Music Festival for two years; the festival expanded to an eight-day festival under his leadership.

Ness also worked for the Zeppa Family Foundation, a progressive-minded foundation focused on hunger and poverty, environmental sustainability, and support for the visual and performing arts in 2007.

Political career[edit]

In 1997, Congressman Jim Oberstar hired Ness to be his campaign manager — a position Ness continued to hold for nearly ten years.

In the Fall of 1999, Ness was elected to the Duluth City Council as the city's councilor-at-large. In 2001 and 2004, he served as council president.

Mayor of Duluth[edit]

Ness was elected mayor of Duluth in November 2007. He was inaugurated for his first-term on January 7, 2008, at an oath of office ceremony held at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.[1]

Ness sought re-election for a second term in 2011. Ness held an 86% approval rating in July 2011.[2] He was unopposed in the November 2011 Duluth mayoral election,[2] becoming the first Duluth mayor to run for re-election without a challenger in more than one hundred years.[3]

Ness was sworn in for a second, four-year term at a ceremony held in front of Duluth City Hall on Monday, January 9, 2012.[3][4]

In November 2013, Ness declined a $19,500 increase in annual pay, despite a City Council vote which approved the 25 percent increase from $78,000 to $97,500. This was the first time the council discussed the issue of mayoral pay in 14 years.[5]


Ness and his wife, Laura, met in 2002 when she was a field staff worker for the late Senator Paul Wellstone. They were married in 2004, and are the parents of three children, Eleanor Mary, James Olav, and Owen Fitzpatrick. Laura is an Assistant Director of the Montessori School of Duluth [6]


  1. ^ Kelleher, Bob (2008-01-07). "New Duluth mayor to be sworn in Monday night". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  2. ^ a b Kelleher, Bob (2011-07-20). "Duluth mayor Don Ness unopposed in election". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  3. ^ a b Hoglund, Alan (2012-01-09). "Duluth Mayor, 6 City Councilors Inaugurated". WDIO. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  4. ^ Kates, Cathy (2012-01-04). "Watch Mayor Ness And Councilors Take The Oath Of Office". KKCB. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  5. ^ Creger, Mike; Peter Passi (2013-11-27). "Duluth Mayor Don Ness nixes pay raise". Duluth News Tribune. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  6. ^ Nonprofit website: 2014-10-14

External links[edit]

See also[edit]