Interconnected: Run, Serve, and Lead: What it’s really like to serve in local elected office

Elected roles in local government have a unique and vital place in our democracy, where neighbors elect neighbors to help their communities thrive. Unfortunately, we’ve all heard stories of increasing polarization and toxic political climate showing up in local settings. What’s it really like to run for office and serve in local elected roles like mayor and city council?

This event featured the findings of a new Citizens League report interviewing candidates and elected officials from all around the Twin Cities metro area and its suburbs as well as a Q&A with locally elected officials.



Emily Larson, Mayor of Duluth 

Ben Schierer, Mayor of Fergus Falls 

Luke Hellier, City Council Member & Mayor-elect of Lakeville

Blanca Martinez Gaviña, Director of Public Policy, Citizens League


Moderated by: 

Brian McClung, Co-CEO & Senior Principal, Park Street Public


About the Series

Minnesotans often use the phrase “rural-urban divide” when talking about the values and priorities that seem to differ across our state. But in reality, our challenges and opportunities are truly interconnected – though the solutions we design may look a bit different in Minneapolis compared to Mankato, or in Brainerd vs. Bloomington. This conversation series – hosted by the Center for Rural Policy and Development and the Citizens League – will bridge the divide between urban & rural Minnesota by exploring our shared challenges and how to design a future that works for our unique communities. Each event will begin with a look at CRPD’s latest research, followed by a panel discussion with speakers from urban and rural areas.