I wrote the following opinion piece published in our local newspaper on Oct. 27, 2017, during my 4th District Duluth City Council re-election campaign. As we know, the City of Duluth has raised its share of the local property tax levy over 100-percent in the six years, which greatly accounts to the recent spike in our residential and commercial property taxes: "Every day I hear from the citizens I'm honored to serve in Duluth's 4th City Council District who say they wish the city would quit inventing new ways to dip into their wallets. I share their frustration.
That's why I voted against a 200 percent increase in the Minnesota Power franchise fee, voted against a 30-plus percent increase in water rate fees, and voted against a 23 percent city levy tax increase in 2016, to give three recent examples.
In my four years as an elected representative, I've voted against every such increase. But because mine is just one vote of nine on the City Council, these new fees and taxes all became reality.
That doesn't mean I'm going to quit fighting for fiscal responsibility, though. Far from it. It's gratifying to have earned a reputation for being a tenacious bulldog who does his research, asks tough questions, and refuses to simply rubber-stamp everything that comes along.
If I'm fortunate enough to gain your vote and be re-elected, I'll continue to carefully watch every penny the city spends and continue to urge my colleagues in city government to spend fewer of them.
I'll continue working to bolster public safety, too. Our community is not as safe as it used to be. While Chief Mike Tusken and his fine police officers do a great job of finding and weeding out the bad guys, the women and men in blue need more resources. I'll keep working to get those resources.
I'll also keep working to affordably repair our streets. Our efforts to secure funding to repave Chambersburg Avenue this summer proved there are ways to pay for streets other than another tax.
And I'll keep seeking your input. It's one thing to hear citizen concerns at City Council meetings, but those folks represent just a small percentage of our community. The best place for me to hear your concerns is right in the 4th District, which covers Duluth Heights, Piedmont Heights, Lincoln Park, and part of West Duluth.
Beth and I are proud to have raised our two kids here and to also own a business in this part of Duluth. It's home to many hard-working, blue-collar residents like us who try every day to make things a little better for our families.
I'm privileged to have the opportunity to try to make things a little better for all Duluth families, and I hope I'm able to put the experience I've gained to work on your behalf for another four years.
I would sincerely appreciate your vote on Nov. 7."
Howie Hanson represents District 4 as a member of the Duluth City Council. The district includes the Piedmont Heights, Duluth Heights, Lincoln Park, and West Duluth neighborhoods. Election Day is Nov. 7. – Source: DuluthNewsTribune.com