Question 3: Method for setting fee paid to Duluth city councilors

Duluth Charter Amendment - Method for setting fee paid to city councilors

After publishing the Duluth 2015 General Election Sample Ballot, a question arose. We’ve been hearing a lot about ranked-choice voting and Lakeside liquor sales, but what’s the deal with question #3?

In a nutshell:

The way things work now, Duluth city councilors can only receive a pay raise by unanimously voting for it themselves or putting it to referendum vote in order to amend the city charter. This is apparently a lot to ask, because council pay hasn’t been raised since 1999. So, for the past 16 years councilors have made $10,000 per year. It’s considered a part-time job, but some councilors say it takes a lot of time to stay on top of their constituents’ concerns.

If citizens vote “yes” on this ballot question and opt to change the city charter, there will be regular third-party reviews of city councilor pay by Duluth’s Charter Commission. The commission would then make a recommendation on whether to adjust the amount councilors are paid. A two-thirds majority vote of the council would then be required to approve the measure.

Charter commission members are determined by the district court — not appointed by the council or mayor — so the argument in favor of this new system is that it removes politics from the process.

The argument for voting “no” would be that citizens might wish to retain the power to vote on pay adjustments if councilors are not in unanimous support.



about 7 years ago

Thank you for the clarification! I was feeling my understanding of Rank Choice Voting was clearer than my understanding of Question #3.
Considering a current City Councilor's wage or stipend is $10,000 a year and if a council member puts in 15 hours a week for a year, that councilor is making less than $13 an hour.
I believe citizens place a fair amount of value on this job and  what is in place is an appropriate control for pay increases. 
Saying that, having a council where wages have not been raised since 1999 is.........a bargain???


about 7 years ago

I am voting yes on liquor sales in Lakeside and yes on changing the charter so that city councilor pay will no longer be a political football. I know how hard my husband and friends on city council work and I know they are not in it for the money, but I do believe these people should be compensated fairly for their labor without having to fear that raises to their pay would be politicized.

I am voting no on RCV. It is the height of stupidity to me to enact RCV in local, nonpartisan elections. This would mean that Duluth voters would have to vote two different ways in elections. And don't think we'd be saving money by eliminating a primary. School board elections are set by the state and ISD 709 would still hold primaries. That means that ISD 709 would have to shoulder all the cost and logistics -- and I think it would depress voter turn out if we only held primaries for school board and other non-local elections (like governor etc).

Also, there would no longer be precinct breakdowns of voting patterns. All ballots would have to be taken to one central place and counted. It would be longer and there would be much less transparency.

By the way, in 2007, there were 12 candidates for mayor, including some very well-funded and well-established candidates. A young scrapper from the East Hillside busted his butt before the primaries and came out a poor second behind Charlie Bell, a well-known businessman from West Duluth. If we had had RCV, Don Ness may not have become mayor and Duluth may not have rebounded the way it has in the eight years he has been mayor. Just saying, people. Think about the consequences before you vote. RCV in Duluth's local elections would favor the candidates with name recognition, not young scrappers like Don Ness, who truly beat the odds to become mayor by defeating Charlie Bell in the general election.

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