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Duluth mayor explains decision to turn down $20K raise

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Apparently Duluth Mayor Don Ness has enough to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

In an interview with the Star Tribune Wednesday, Ness talked about his decision to turn down a pay increase approved by the Duluth City Council Monday night that would have boosted his pay nearly $20,000, from $78,000 to $97,500.

"While any family could use a bit more, I didn’t feel it was necessary,” Ness told the paper. "I worried about my ability to adequately represent the people of Duluth while carrying the weight of this unusual salary increase."

Instead, the money will go into the city's general fund.

Ness, 39, and his wife, Laura, have three children, ages 8, 6 and 2.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, the mayor said he and his wife came to the decision Tuesday morning at the breakfast table. He first posted his intentions on Facebook before calling a press conference Tuesday morning.

"After a long and prayerful night, Laura and I have decided not to accept the raise passed by the city council last night. I will explain my rationale later today, but I am absolutely convinced this is the right thing to do," Ness wrote on his Facebook page.

The mayor told the News Tribune that the decision reflected "our values and service to this community."

According to paper, Ness did admit turning down the money was "uncomfortable and a bit painful."

The News Tribune said the Duluth City Council has not taken up the issue of a mayoral raise for the past 14 years. The mayor said he is for the idea of the position getting a pay increase, but doesn't want the issue to be debated until after the next election.

Ness' current term expires in 2015, and he said he won't decide on a re-election bid until next year.

Ness, who began serving as Duluth's mayor in 2008, was elected to a second term in 2011.

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