The Future of Superior


Who Is In Control?

The past year has been an exciting time in Superior. Most of us first heard about the Better City Superior (BCS) organization about a year ago when they held a series of group meetings. At these meetings, attendees were asked a number of questions which were later used to power an online survey.

The intent of the survey was to try and get into the collective psyche of the citizens of Superior. For any sort of major development to take place in our downtown, the will of the people is extremely important, and the BCS team needed to determine if we would support it.

Self-Evaluation by Superiorites

One of their questions was “as a community, do we control our own future?” This would speak to the optimism of residents…do they believe that we can make Superior better, or have they given up hope?

A resounding 78.71% of respondents either agreed strongly or somewhat to that premise. This number was later borne out when over 75% of voters supported BCS in the November 8th referendum vote.

Significantly, only 13.49% disagreed somewhat or strongly with the question. The remaining 7.8% had no opinion.

Most Superiorites have a high level of belief that we can control our own future. That’s a good thing and flies in the face of the negativity that often colors local politics.

However, the next two questions were quite interesting when viewed side by side.

Question Positive Neutral Negative
What is your general feeling about the future of Superior? 36.44% 37.99% 25.57%
How do you think other community members feel about the future of Superior? 13.74% 36.63% 49.63%
Variance 22.70% 1.36% (24.06%)

Confused Superiorite pondering the future | Explore SuperiorWhen asked their personal opinions, those who took the survey were about equally split in their responses about Superior, with the negative response bringing in the lowest number.

However when quizzed about what they thought the rest of the community thought, perceptions of negativity almost doubled!

What is noteworthy about these questions is that on a personal level people are generally more positive about Superior’s future than they believe the rest of the community is. Granted, this may be skewed somewhat because those responding were perhaps already interested in improving our city.

Nonetheless, this speaks to a prevailing attitude of negativity that must be turned around in order for Superior to become a better place to live and raise a family.

Who Will Turn the Boat Around?

Turning Superior around is akin to turning a 1000 footer around in the bay near Barker's Island | Explore Superior

Turn the boat around!

Pardon my analogy, but the task of leading our city to a better tomorrow is akin to turning a 1000 footer around in the bay off of Barker’s Island. It’s a big job, rife with peril and the potential for failure.

However, there is no good alternative. Much as the 1000 footer needs to move on to complete its mission, Superior must move forward for the good of current and future residents.

Who knows, some of those future residents may even be our young people returning home to an improved job outlook thanks to what we do in the next few years.

The BCS survey asked citizens “who should we depend on most to lead our city forward?” Respondents were given these options:

Who should leave our city forward? Responses
Citizens and local organizations 44.18%
Business community 23.56%
City Government 17.60%
Other (please specify) 14.67%

Wow! Almost 68% of respondents surveyed believe that the future of Superior lies with citizens, local organizations, or businesses. Only 17.60% placed their faith in our city government.

Does this speak to rugged individualism or massive disappointment in our government officials.

Jim Paine, candidate for Mayor of Superior | Explore Superior

Jim Paine

Brent Fennessey, announces run for Mayor of Superior | Explore Superior

Brent Fennessey

This surely should be a concern to our new mayor come April. Candidates Jim Paine and Brent Fennessey will be called upon to lead the charge should the State Assembly put the Superior Exposition District into the 2017 budget.

We can only hope that our next mayor will be a transformational leader in the mold of Don Ness and the manner in which he led Duluth, first as a city councilor-at-large from 2000 to 2008, and then as mayor from 2008 to 2016. Maybe we can work a reverse Herb Bergson scenario…hmmmmm?

Citizen Comments from Survey

While not scientific proof of what lies in the hearts and souls of your average Superiorite, the comments left from those checking “Other” in the above question may be instructive to our next mayor. Here is but a sample of the 160 comments submitted:

Who should we depend on most to lead our city forward?

  • All of the above (about 85% of comments echoed this sentiment)
  • The mayor should lead the citizens toward the vision
  • The city government as it exists today does not work
  • We need new people in government, old ones clearly are not effective
  • Citizens electing leaders who will listen
  • We need a strong mayor with a vision that is empowered
  • Would love to see younger people elected with fresh ideas
  • Takes strong leadership, but w/o the support of the community success is hindered
  • We need the citizens to stand up and speak
  • City with direct involvement of business and citizens
  • City government along with Chamber, BID, Dev Association, etc.
  • Collaboration of government, citizens, and private interests
  • We all need to depend on each other…everyone is involved

Time To Choose a New Mayor

Expectations of new mayor of Superior high this time around | Explore SuperiorIn four short weeks, the citizens of Superior will elect a new mayor. Will it be Paine or Fennessey? Both men have a long relationship with Superior, both serve as elected officials at the County and City level. Both grew up here, went to college here, are raising their families here, and coincidentally…both are employed in Duluth! Irony abounds…

Regardless of who our next mayor is, we can only hope that the second place finisher will step up and volunteer to help in any way possible as Superior moves forward.

We encourage you to make yourself informed about each candidate and by all means, Vote on April 4th!

Two Mayoral Forums Scheduled by Explore Superior

Mayoral Forums scheduled March 15 and 23 at Superior Library | Explore SuperiorExplore Superior will host two mayoral forums leading up to the election. Our first forum will be on Wednesday, March 15th at 6 pm in the large meeting room of the Superior Library. That forum will focus on their short-term goals. Yes, the future is important, but keeping the lights on in the near-term is also a big concern. Topics will include the budget, personnel needs, and concerns centering on city services and facility maintenance.

The second forum will be on Thursday, March 23rd at 6pm in the same location. During that meeting, we will explore the candidates’ ideas and goals for the long-term. Topics of that forum will include the Better City Superior initiative, how they intend to attract new business and industry to Superior, while building and maintaining existing businesses and jobs. Another line of conversation will center on making our city more livable, and how to retain our youth post-graduation from high school and college.

Follow the links in the two above paragraphs and please indicate on each event whether you intend to attend. That will be helpful to us as we prepare the room ahead of time.

We hope that you will attend at least one of these meetings. You will have the opportunity to learn about each candidate and hear their thoughts. Explore Superior will issue question cards to interested audience members, giving you the opportunity to submit questions to the candidates during the forum.

For those who are unable to attend, we encourage you to tune into the Explore Superior Facebook page where we will broadcast the events using Facebook Live. Be sure to like our Facebook page so you receive notifications about new events in the future.

Community TV will also video tape both forums for later broadcast on cable access.

Volunteers Needed

ES is seeking the help of three volunteers during each forum. Volunteers will help us setup and breakdown the seating before and after the events, handout and collect audience collection cards, and one person may be recruited to help with technical aspects.

Volunteers need to arrive by 5:15 pm on the day they are helping. Each forum will wrap up by 8:00 pm.

If you would like to assist, please contact us at Include your name and phone number; we will contact everyone who volunteers to advise them if their services are needed.

Have a great day…spring is almost here!

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