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Don Ness

Don Ness grew up during the 1980's and '90s as a shy pastor's kid in the Hillside, a working-class Duluth neighborhood of modest homes and spectacular Lake Superior views. Coming of age amid decades of decline for the city powerfully affected Don, and as a young man he committed himself to public service. After eight years as a city councilor, he was elected Duluth's mayor. Even though he struggled early and made a string of unpopular decisions, Duluth residents eventually gave him job-approval ratings around 89 percent, Twin Cities Business named him 2013 Person of the Year, and Garrison Keillor once called him "America's most popular mayor." During his sixteen years in elected office, Don has contributed to and celebrated his hometown's revitalization and truly believes its best days are yet to come. Don and Laura Ness and their there kids -- Eleanor, James, and Owen -- live happily in a city built on a hill overlooking the world's greatest lake.