Exit Garry Krause; Enter Howie Hanson

Forgive me, followers from afar:  with primary elections this Tuesday, this blog is going to be pretty much nonstop local politics for the next few days. But if you like reading about nutty local wannabe-politicians, this post should amuse you anyway. I’d intended to start this series tomorrow, but a surprise announcement has me rushing to get this post up early.

Garry Krause, a member of the Duluth City Council, has announced that a new job will leave him unable to continue on in his position. He will attend his final Council meeting this coming Monday. The city will have to decide whether it will fill Krause’s Fourth District seat until next January, when the winner of this fall’s race for his seat–which is now a one-man race–will take office.

I didn’t always agree with Councilor Krause, but when it came to professionalism on the City Council, he was second to none. As I wrote a couple of months ago, he manages to blend principled stands with decency and civility. He was a dedicated public servant, and brought a necessary voice of skepticism to the Council without ever being overbearing or self-righteous in his critiques. I would have gladly endorsed him for a second term, and the city will miss him. I wish him well in his new position, and I definitely respect his decision to prioritize his family over his political career.

That said, I can’t pretend I’m not somewhat bitter over his departure from the race at this point, which leaves local blogger Howie Hanson unopposed in his pursuit of the Fourth District seat.

For the most part, Howie’s blog just plugs community events, and I appreciate people who put in that sort of community service. However, facile mentions of local events do not qualify one to wrangle with esoteric ordinances and resolutions. He doesn’t have a campaign website yet (and probably won’t need one, now that he has no opponent), so it’s hard to evaluate what other qualifications he may have other than being interested in things.

Admittedly, I also have a bit of a history with Howie: he tried to be a high school hockey analyst for a little while, and quickly made himself the laughingstock of the local hockey community. That may seem petty and irrelevant to his potential work on the City Council, but the character he displayed was not what I want out of a Councilor: he pretended to be objective when he had obvious loyalties, he took it upon himself to call out the “arrogance” of certain teams without any evidence, hyped up some players to absurd levels, and when people called him out or noted his numerous errors, he quickly deleted things and pretended he’d never written them. He was sloppy, held grudges, and did not take criticism well at all. I’ve disagreed with any number of hockey commentators on any number of issues over the years, but with the vast majority of them, I’m able to get over that and have a friendly relationship; Howie, on the other hand, was quite incapable of participating in a dialogue like that. That doesn’t inspire much trust.

Howie, who can be found wandering the Heritage Center wearing swag that advertises his blog, also once got the School District to pay him $19,000 a few years back so that he could do things that anyone with a basic knowledge of computers could do–allegedly for 30 hours a week! (Why not have kids do it?) Needless to say, his “goduluthschools.com” website was a total flop, and typing that address into your browser now gets you a thrilling series of posts on HGH and penis enlargement. I don’t think he’s a bad or dangerous person; I will just be surprised if he proves a competent city councilor.

I suppose there’s some chance that someone will mount a write-in campaign now that Councilor Krause is out of the picture, but even if that happens, we’re likely stuck with Howie. It’ll be an “interesting” four years on the Duluth City Council.


Over the next two days I’ll have posts on the primary races for Duluth School Board and City Council. Stay tuned.


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