Sipress and Sistad hoping for student impact in city council vote

Campaign signs for both candidates are placed along roads in Duluth's second District

Campaign signs for both candidates are placed along roads in Duluth's second District

Incumbent Joel Sipress is up against challenger Ryan Sistad in Duluth’s District 2 City Council election, and both candidates are looking for students to be active voters.  

District Two contains the College of St. Scholastica, and a large chunk of surrounding student housing in close proximity to UMD’s campus.

Duluth's Second District -  Map Courtesy of The City of Duluth

Duluth's Second District - Map Courtesy of The City of Duluth


Sipress, who moved to Duluth in 1994, has been on the city council since 2014. He has also been on the forefront of many student-resident issues.

“Both as a councilor and as a resident I have always thought that having good, clear communication between student residents and community residents makes a huge difference,” Sipress said.

Sipress’ challenger, Ryan Sistad, moved to Duluth from Grand Forks, ND, three years ago. Sistad views Duluth as a city with a lot of potential, and getting students to stay is a matter of opportunity.

“We need to get students to stay in Duluth by bringing companies in and giving them greater opportunity to stay in the area that they decided to attend college,” Sistad said.


Both candidates support Mayor Emily Larson’s transportation sales tax proposal, an intensely debated referendum that will triple the city’s budget to spend on infrastructure and road work.

“Improvements to our infrastructure efforts will help spur economic growth in our city, making it more attractive for companies to locate or relocate here,” Sistad said.

“The best thing about the sales tax proposal is that it spreads the cost of our roads out to commuters and tourists, lightening the burden for residents and students,” Sipress said. ”Everyone that uses our streets has to help out.”

Duluth Living

Sipress has spent a majority of his career in an academic setting, and is tenured as a history professor at the University of Wisconsin Superior.

“I moved to Duluth in 1994 to pursue the job at UW-Superior and immediately fell in love with the city and the natural beauty of Lake Superior,” Sipress said.

23-year-old Sistad was also drawn to Duluth by natural beauty and the many opportunities the outdoors provided. He currently works for Parsons Electric LLC as a project manager and estimator.

“I was drawn to Duluth to be in this area of natural beauty, and once I settled in I started to realize how much potential we have here,” Sistad said.

Looking Forward

One of the main issues Sipress wants to work on with other councilors is paid sick time for employees around the city.

“I know from working with students how much of a struggle work can be while balancing your studies,” Sipress said. “If you get sick and have to miss work, it shouldn’t affect your ability to pay for books or tuition.”

Sistad said ordinances like these will negatively affect city workers by driving companies out.

He said that Duluth can supplement major industries such as shipping and tourism.

“Duluth has had virtually no growth in the last five years, adding 90 people to our population in that timespan. We need to start finding ways to get people to stay in our city,” Sistad said.

Polling stations are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on November 7. To find your precinct’s polling location, can help figure out where to vote.








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