Mayor Emily Larson talks about importance of women in politics at UMD
At a “Meet Your Mayor” speech organized by UMD’s Women’s Resource and Action Center, Mayor Emily Larson discussed the many difficulties she faced while running for Duluth’s most prominent office.
“There were many people that tried to talk me out of running for mayor,” Larson said. “Whether it be gender-related concerns or not, there was resistance from others in the community.’
Larson never anticipated to be Duluth’s highest ranking public official.
“My step from being someone who is interested in what’s going on and committed to the community to being someone who wants to be elected to represent the community was a transition that took about six or seven years,” Larson said. “I had never envisioned myself as mayor at that point.”
Through a period as City Councilor, Larson built up her political credentials enough to consider a run for mayor.
“I had known that there would be an opening for mayor coming up, and I realized that I had all the experience necessary to make a run,” said Larson.
Larson finds it inspiring to see other women in office.
“It is meaningful to me when there are others in positions of power that identify as anything other than caucasian males,” Larson said. “Often, I am one of the only women in the room.”
Now on top of a tough local political climate, Larson takes solace in the fact that she is the city’s first and only female mayor.
“The city of Duluth has been around since around 1850,” Larson said. “Everyone before me has identified as caucasian and male.”
Even though there are definite signs of progress, Larson sees much more work to be done.
“I have lost count of how many times younger girls have asked me if there could be girl mayors,” Larson said. “It blows my mind thinking about how many messages we still have to learn and unlearn.”