Duluth mayor-elect Roger Reinert announced today that he will be nominating David Montgomery as chief administrative officer and Jessica Fralich as city attorney.
Montgomery previously served as city administrator for nine years under former mayors Don Ness and Emily Larson. He has a background in finance, budget and administration.
“I’m grateful to have Dave’s wealth of knowledge and experience as we get underway," Reinert said in a press release today. "He is a proven leader and will be charged with the City of Duluth’s fiscal integrity, and leading the effort to focus our efforts on core city services and the city staff who provide them.”
Said Montomgery: “Mayoral transitions bring opportunity and fresh energy to the city organization. I’m looking forward to returning to City Hall to work with mayor-elect Reinert and the over 880 dedicated city staff serving the residents of Duluth."
Reinert noted that Montgomery will support only the first year of his term. He intends to launch a search for a permanent CAO before the start of summer.
Meanwhile, Fralich will be new to City Hall, but not to public work. She is currently a referee with the 6th Judicial District Court, and previously worked with the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office. She also has experience in private practice, and has been actively involved with domestic violence response efforts.
“Jessica brings strong relationships with the county, the courts, community agencies, and both Duluth Police and the Sheriff's office, as well as experience meeting people in their difficult moments and toughest chapters of life," said Reinert. "We talked a lot about public safety during the campaign, and I know Jessica will be a community leader in this area. The city attorney is a complex role. You need municipal and transactional law experience, and you also need the ability to manage and lead a key City Hall department. Jessica checks all these boxes. I’m thrilled she’s joining our team."
Said Fralich: “I am excited about the opportunity to serve the City of Duluth in a new role. I am committed to strengthening the relationships I have built over the past sixteen years, while forming new ones in order to best serve all members of our community.”
4th District City Councilor Tara Swenson said: "As an incoming City Councilor taking office alongside Mayor-elect Reinert, I am pleased to witness the words of his campaign materialize, echoing the desire for change many asked for. While I have yet to personally engage with Dave Montgomery or Jessica Fralich, from the looks of it he has nominated two accomplished individuals that bring experience from various sectors and historic knowledge of our city. I look forward to working with them. Expressing my support for these changes, I also want to extend my gratitude to Noah Schuchman and Rebecca St. George for their dedication and contributions to our city. Their efforts over the years are appreciated and I wish them all the best."
Duluth City Councilor Arik Forsman said he appreciates the thoughtful way Reinert has approached his decision-making process for key leadership roles at the city during this transition period.
"Today’s announcement was a big step toward the new administration taking shape and moving forward," said Forsman. "It is his decision to pay the associated severance packages that will be necessary to bring in his preferred leadership team, and I will support this request when it comes to the council for a vote. I want to congratulate Dave and Jessica on their nominations to the roles of city administrator and city attorney, respectively. I worked with Dave briefly when I first joined the council and have heard wonderful things about Jessica. Also, I want to thank Noah Schuchman and Rebecca St. George for their service to Duluth. I have worked well with both of these dedicated professionals and wish them absolutely nothing but the best.”
Former Duluth police chief Scott Lyons said Montgomery will help the transition and calls him "top-notch."
"Jessica is a good choice and she’ll do just fine. Kudos to the outgoing folks. Neither is an easy job!" Lyons added.
In making today’s announcement Reinert also thanked Noah Shuchman and Rebecca St. George, the current CAO and city attorney, for their dedicated service to the City of Duluth.
“Public work is a calling," said Reinert. "It’s never where you can make the most money, or most easily advance your career. You do it because you care about the work, our community, and our residents. Both Noah and Rebecca are exceptional professionals, and I sincerely appreciate their intentional choice to do this work.”
Reinert and new and reelected city councilors will be sworn into office January 2 at noon in the 1st Floor Rotunda of Duluth City Hall. The public event is expected to last about 20 minutes.