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Connecting with local candidates

One month ago, I embarked on a journey of discovery. I did so after determining the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce would greatly benefit if I met with each individual who announces his or her intent to be a candidate for a local elected position. This includes candidates for the District 709 School Board, Duluth City Council and the mayor of Duluth. My talented colleague, Roger Wedin, director of policy and education for the chamber, joined me in this endeavor.

It has been an enlightening and encouraging experience. While we still have candidate meetings to schedule, our interactions have been abundantly productive. We have met with six of the 12 announced candidates. I am reaching out to the remaining candidates to arrange for our meetings.

I describe these fine individuals as "announced candidates" because the official filing for local elected office does not begin until July 7. Consequently, community members will not know who is officially running for office until the filing period concludes July 21.

When contacting candidates, I preface my request to meet by promising them that our meeting will not be an interview. I also reassure them the chamber does not endorse candidates. Rather, the chamber educates our members regarding candidate stances on local issues that impact our business community. I explain that our motivation to meet with them is simply to get to know them better and to better understand their positions on local issues. It is also an opportunity for the candidates and the chamber to establish an ongoing and productive conversation pertaining to local public policy.

Roger and I also let them know the chamber plans to host candidate forums between the Sept. 15 primary election day and the Nov. 3 general election. We plan to host three forums for city council, mayor and school board.

In recent years we have partnered with the Duluth News Tribune to host the forums. The Tribune has been an outstanding partner in bringing these candidate forums to our beloved community. We hope once again to partner with the Tribune.

I anticipate the local media will cover these anticipated forums. By doing so, the media outlets allow community members to access the forums on television, radio and various websites. Our community benefits when we understand the positions that candidates plan to take on local issues.

Duluth's future is bright. I am confident of this after meeting with the motivated and conscientious individuals seeking to serve our community as elected officials. I hope you will join me in setting out to learn as much as we can about Duluth's future leaders.

David Ross is the president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at 740-3751 or dross@duluthchamber.com.

David Ross

David Ross is the president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at 740-3751.

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