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Duluth city administrator Montgomery announces retirement

David Montgomery. Howie /

David Montgomery announced today that effective October 1 he is retiring after serving nine years and two mayors as Duluth’s city administrator.

Montgomery was first hired in April 2009 by former Mayor Don Ness. In the wake of the global financial crisis, one of his first tasks was to restore the city’s financial stability, rebuild its reserves and improve the city’s bond rating. All of which has been achieved.

Mayor Emily Larson and Montgomery agreed to work together when she took office in 2016. Initially, they both thought it would be for a time of transition, but found they made an effective team. At a press conference Wednesday morning, Larson praised Montgomery’s service to the City.

“When I was elected two years ago, Dave and I agreed he should stay on as city administrator to help move a few big projects like the NorShor Theatre and Superior Street projects over the finish line and provide continuity as I set out to build my own team,” said Larson. “Dave brings the aspirational and deeply pragmatic leadership local government demands. In a job always tinged with politics he has remained mission focused. He’s helped me accomplish a lot, and I’ve come to deeply appreciate his professionalism, integrity and deep loyalty.”

Over the last nine years Montgomery was at the forefront of many critical city efforts including guiding Duluth’s disaster recovery efforts following the 2012 flood and 2016 windstorm, securing support and funding to modernize Duluth Energy’s heating system, advocating for Duluth’s transportation sales tax funding program, building a culture of customer service and problem solving across city divisions, and securing numerous critical economic development and infrastructure projects.

Montgomery reflected on his service and acknowledged there will be parts of the job he will miss.

“It’s a team effort. No one does this alone,” he said. “I got to work with two visionary and transformational mayors and some of the smartest, creative and dedicated city managers and staff who work every day to make Duluth better. That will be hard to say good-bye to.”

Still Montgomery said that it was a good time to leave.

“Nine years is a long time in a job like this,” he said. “We’ve accomplished a lot and laid some really solid foundations. Duluth is on the move and it’s time to step aside and let Mayor Larson finish building out her full team. I’m ready to start a new chapter for myself, and Emily is ready to accelerate her work and impact. I’m excited for both of us. It’s the right time.”

Montgomery is the longest serving city administrator since Clarence Maddy, who served six Duluth mayors. Montgomery said he has no specific plans about new work beyond taking some time off and doing some travelling.

Larson says she wishes Dave the best and is eager to see what comes next.

“There’s not a big, complicated, hard to unravel problem that Dave doesn’t love,” she said. “He thrives on trying to figure out the tough ones. That’s a really valuable skill whether in the public or private sector.”

Larson said that applications for the city administrator position will be accepted through the City of Duluth’s Human Resources website starting Monday. There will be a farewell reception for Montgomery in early September.