Bender challenges Norbie for 3rd District council seatFor the first time since 2000, voters in the 3rd District have a choice about who will represent them at city hall.
By: Shelley Nelson, The Daily Telegram
For the first time since 2000, voters in the 3rd District have a choice about who will represent them at city hall. Incumbent Kevin Norbie, a firefighter with the Duluth air base and city council vice president, faces a challenge from Warren Bender, a retiring Duluth school teacher and chairman of the Democratic Party of Douglas County.
Norbie has served the district as a councilor and an advocate for economic growth for almost six years. After losing a bid in 2000 to incumbent Peter Moran, a five-term councilor, Norbie won the unopposed seat in 2002. Before taking office, he chaired a task force created to consider how to best warn residents in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. He served as chairman and co-chairman of the Superior Quality Housing Task Force, created to implement recommendations stemming from the citizen-based initiative. After elected to office, he stepped down as committee chair because he believed the process should continue to be citizen-driven.
Bender believes the democratic process only works if voters have a choice. With his decision to retire after 35 years of teaching, he decided it was time to throw his hat in the ring. Bender also has served as Duluth Federation of Teachers vice president and as a building steward at Duluth East High School. He has also been a member and secretary of the Labor Management Quality Steering Committee and has been active in the Democratic Party during the last two and current election cycles.
“I have been encouraged by my friends and neighbors throughout the 3rd District and the city to run,” Bender said of his three-prong decision to run for office, which includes his beliefs about democracy. “They and I see a need for a positive voice for the people of the 3rd District.”
For the last six years, Norbie said he has tried to provide a positive voice for constituents. During his tenure on the council, Norbie has held at least one meeting per year with residents to discuss issues facing the city. He’s held nine so far to address everything from city budgets and economic development to deer overpopulation, roads, sidewalks and other issues that affect people in their neighborhoods.
“I get my input directly from the residents of the 3rd District,” Norbie said. “I care very deeply about my district, and my allegiance lies with the people who live there.” He said he wants to continue working against crime and to improve infrastructure.
“The role of a city councilor is to seek vast and ample input from his constituents regarding the issues the effect the city of Superior,” Bender said. “The councilor should then vote accordingly while also using common sense and his or her conscience. While door knocking around the 3rd District to introduce my candidacy and myself, my neighbors have expressed many concerns about the district and the city in general. My goals are to address these concerns in a timely manner.”
Bender said he will keep knocking on doors even after the election.
The three most pressing issues, he said, is business development, living wage jobs and capitalizing on the city’s past as it moves forward.
The one area on which Norbie and Bender part company is the city’s economic future.
“It’s the city’s industrial base that, in my opinion, has proven to be the backbone of any community,” Norbie said. “Everything feeds off of that. It’s the skilled trades. It’s the industrial skilled workers making the family-supporting wages… it’s the spin offs.”
Over the last 1 1?2 years, companies like Hallett Dock No. 8, CLM, AMSOIL, Charter Films, Genesis and others have invested about $100 million to increase output into world markets, with the city council supporting many of the projects. Norbie said he has always supported tax increment districts and grants to help local industry flourish when a sound business plan was presented.
Bender recognizes the value of tourism and revitalizing the city’s business districts to draw people to the community.
“The days of a large corporation being established in the city are probably gone,” he said. In the current service economy, there is a need for living wage jobs,” Bender said. “The mayor has identified the need for housing, light industry and office space in the city.”
He supports tax increment finance districts, grants and other creative forms of assisting projects that don’t adversely affect taxpayers.
Contact Shelley Nelson at (715) 395-5022 or email@example.com