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Hundreds say goodbye to 'America's most popular mayor' in Duluth

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The man dubbed the "most popular mayor in the America" ended his tenure Wednesday night with a celebration concert in Duluth.

Don Ness brought the curtain down on his eight-year stint as the mayor of Duluth at the height of his popularity in the Northland city, with hundreds of people turning out to see his final mayoral address and a free concert at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.

WDIO reports there were performances by Trampled by Turtles' Dave Simolett, Charlie Parr and Sarah Krueger, while Minnesota Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar sent in video tributes – with KBJR saying Franken's featured a "light-roasting" of the 41-year-old.

"It's meant so much to be in this position to see Duluth transform in this really exciting way, and so again, it's just a chance to say thank you," Ness told the crowd during his 24-minute address.

According to MinnPost, Ness has overseen a transformation in Duluth, which it says has gone from near-financial ruin to a Mecca for outdoor pursuits, culminating in it being named the best town in America last year by Outside Magazine.

Much of the success of the revitalization has been put down to the city's "energetic mascot" Ness, who has popularity "unheard of ... for a politician," the website says, with an almost 90 percent approval rating last year.

The Duluth News Tribune reports he explained his secrets of governing the city to those in attendance Wednesday, which are: Putting Duluth's interest first, "honoring complex truths," being optimistic rather than cynical, and "seeking out, celebrating and investing in what's good."

He described himself as an "unremarkable person who has lived a charmed and remarkable life," before paying tribute to his family and the city that has accepted them all.

"There are times when we are absolutely frustrated with this city, we can't put up with it anymore, and then you turn around and see the view and you're like, oh my gosh, this is the most amazing place that you could possibly live," he said, according to the paper.

Mayor Elect Emily Larson, who WDIO notes also said some words during the event, will take over as Mayor on Jan. 4.

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