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Mayor Ness Turns Down His Raise From Duluth City Council

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In an impressive move today, after the city voted to give Mayor Don Ness a raise, he refused to accept it. The city council voted a 25 percent pay increase,  from $78,000 to $97,500. He said it was the right thing to do.

On his Facebook page he said, “Thanks for all the support out there on this uncomfortable discussion. Please know that this is not at all driven in reaction to the hateful voices out there, rather it’s motivated by an overwhelming sense of being blessed by this community and not needing anything more from a community that has given us so much. After a long and prayerful night, Laura and I have decided not to accept the raise passed by the city council last night. I will explain my rationale later today, but I am absolutely convinced this is the right thing to do.”

What impressed me was this statement, according to the Duluth News Tribune, he said it was difficult to send his children off to school knowing that some of the household incomes of classmates’ families equal the nearly $20,000 raise.

Later he explained it this way, After the raise was voted for he said he instantly felt conflicted and full of anxiety. He went on to say, “The issue seemed to put at odds the two most important things in my life: the well-being of my family and my responsibility to represent the people of Duluth. On one hand, every family would benefit from a salary increase and I began thinking of those things I could do better for my kids.”

This was impressive too, and moved me, on his Facebook page he said, “At the same time, I questioned if accepting a raise would complicate the ability to do my job well. Over the years, I’ve made a lot of tough and unpopular decisions that have asked for sacrifice from others to help solve our problems and many in Duluth struggle with poverty or rising costs on a fixed income. I questioned if accepting a raise in this way would burden my ability to lead. And I struggled and struggled with this.”

No one is perfect and no one agrees with everything he has done, but I have to say, if you can be a man of your word and stick to that word when you ask the same of others, that deserves some honor. So many times nowadays atheletes, people in public office, and people in the public eye have disappointed us with their decisions. I’ve always read you don’t lead with words you lead with example.


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