Dan Hartman- Duluth City Councilor
Dan Hartman hearts Duluth.
That’s a good thing, because on November 3rd, local voters hit the polls in droves, selecting him to join the ranks of the Duluth City Council to speak in representation of them. It was his first run for office, and at the tender age of 27, he finished as the top vote- getter. And this guy seriously gets it.
Hartman started out life in Crosby-Ironton, but ultimately chose to uproot and re-plant himself in the Twin Ports. He’s a decision-maker, after all.
“I literally knew I’d come to college at UMD by the fifth grade,” said Dan.
Hartman loved the Duluth-Superior area and all it had to offer, particularly in the realm of the outdoors. He made good on his grade-school convictions and graduated first with a B.A. , and later with a Master’s in Advocacy and Political Leadership, from UMD.
“As a history major, I really wanted to stay in Duluth... I love the history of the city. Downtown has an interesting story,” he indicated.
As luck would have it, Hartman found the perfect job– working as the Program Director for Veteran’s Memorial Hall. It’s been a swift ascent for Dan into the realm of local politics, but his plans and visions for the community have clearly been long in the making.
“I think there are a lot of things we need to work on… but we have so many assets. The growth in [other similarly-sized] cities is obvious just driving through them. We’re kind of behind the times. We’ve had some of the same mechanisms in place since the ‘30’s.”
Make no mistake, though. Hartman recognizes the incredible potential in the area for progressive change.
“We have a tremendous community. Our community spirit is very vibrant and active. We want to move ahead. Let’s bring people together and do that."
Sounds good! So does Hartman have a plan for how that can happen? Of course.
“We need a business plan and a vision for economic growth… We need to work with local business and community leaders [to develop it]. I’m recruiting these leaders right now.”
Dan speaks with an abundance of enthusiasm and passion about the community and the place that is Duluth. He’s brimming with ideas, some centered around his intense love of the bountiful natural environment of the Twin Ports.
“What isn’t talked about enough is the park systems. We have the most green space per capita of any city in the country.
“Some of these things are almost hidden– we’ve got the 32-mile-long Superior Hiking Trail. Basic signage would help illuminate [outdoor destinations]. Get the media involved in highlighting these things, put photos of trails online. Get school groups and colleges onto the trail systems. I love what Hartley Nature Center does, for example.”
It's no secret that misconceptions about our little corner of the world tend to abound, and Dan is happy to bust a few nagging myths.
“It’s not as cold as people think… We’re not as far away as people think we are. The transportation- we have an airport, the interstate runs through Duluth, we have the possibility of the [high-speed] train. Our city property taxes are lower than in most of the state- they’re half of St. Cloud’s, a third of Rochester’s.”
To potential residents, particularly young college grads and other job-seekers, Hartman shares some sound advice:
“Be realistic. Spend as much time looking for a job here as you would looking for a job in other cities. Give Duluth a chance.”
After all, that’s what he did.
Whether he’s found hiking the Congdon Creek trail above Glensheen; kicking back at Hugo’s Pizza II in Gary, indulging in a sub big enough to fuel a week-long cross-country ski bender; or sitting beside the rest of the city council members, parsing out the future of Duluth, you can bet Dan Hartman’s will be a familiar face around Duluth, “the smallest big town [he’s] ever been a part of.”
Family: Wife, Elizabeth
Occupation: Program Director for Veteran’s Memorial Hall, part of the St. Louis County Historical Society. He’s also got a bonus job, as a newly-elected Duluth City Councilor.
Education: Dan has a B.A. from UMD, where he majored in history and minored in political science. He also completed UMD’s MAPL (Masters in Advocacy and Poltical Leadership) program, graduating in May of 2009.
Boomerang, Transplant, or Lifer: Transplant!
Hometown: Crosby-Ironton, MN
His Definition of “Success”: Is best embodied by this quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt: "It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something."
Nightmare Job: “A very mundane, routine, same-thing-every-day kind of job.”
Favorite Places to Eat: “Right now, my favorite place is the Zen House. I love their Zen Roll. A more stable favorite would be the gyro at Coney Island Deluxe.”
How He Recreates: Dan’s primary recreational pursuit is hitting the trails with his wife for leisurely hikes. “My wife’s also a big fan of crime shows, so I get sucked into those.”
Favorite Nightlife Spot/Activity: The new Zinema. Dan insists you can’t beat watching the Big Lebowski while nursing a White Russian.
How He Survives the Lengthy Winters: “I’m a big movie buff. Except musicals. I’m on a western kick right now, but I always like Spaceballs, Wayne’s World, Primary Colors, Thank You For Smoking… Primary Colors has some moments that illustrate the best possible elements of politics.”
Favorite Secret Honey Hole: Just one? Dan’s happy to supply a full itinerary of not-to-be-missed locations:
1. The very end of Park Point- the park Point/Lighthouse Trail
2. Enger Tower
3. Rice Point Bridge
4. For his interns, the Skywalk system, because they “never come downtown.”
5. Graffiti Graveyard
6. Superior Hiking Trail- the section near Spirit Mountain
7. Piedmont Trail System- cross-country skiing
8. And the “BEST cross-country ski trail- the Korkki Nordic. “It’s a straight, only classic, narrow trail” with a warming hut on premises, featuring Olympic skiiers’ jerseys.”
Shovel or Snowblower? “Shovel. Absolutely.” Last year, Dan explains, he and his neighbors planned a summer bbq in the midst of their shoveling. It’s one of those rare times, he pointed out, that everyone’s outside, together, talking.
If He Could Be Any Superhero, He Would Choose: (He thought this one through pretty intently!) “Batman. He’s incredibly active within public policy, and he used his father’s wealth to move things forward.”