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 online event on in December 2022 highlighted findings of a new Citizens League report interviewing candidates and elected officials from all around the Twin Cities metro area and its suburbs. Watch below.


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.  

Thanks to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota for their support of deep dives into policy topics that affect Minnesota and its residents.