Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson announced Monday that instead of running for a second term, he'd rather find a job that offers more time with his family and fewer headaches.
After declaring last summer that he wasn't running, then hinting in February that he might change his mind, Bergson affirmed Monday morning at City Hall that he won't run again.
"At some point you run out of gas. It's been a real roller coaster the past few months," he said, noting that he loves the job, but long hours, working on weekends and travel have taken a toll.
Bergson, 50, first announced in June that he would not seek re-election, saying he wanted to spend the rest of his 19 months in office making unpopular but needed cuts to city employee health-care benefits.
That announcement came after eight months of disappointment and controversy over a fired top aide, a drunken driving arrest and failure to get money from the 2006 Legislature for a DECC expansion.
In February, Bergson began reconsidering a run after receiving an open letter from two prominent businessmen asking him to run again, along with hundreds of e-mails, phone calls and letters from supporters.
Bergson said he already was leaning toward not running, but last week's City Council meeting clinched the decision for him.
He said he was frustrated by the amount of time the council spends dealing with small issues that aren't of major concern to Duluth residents, and because they haven't reached a consensus on what to do about the city's $309 million retiree health-care liability.
"It felt like ... we're on different pages," he said. "We have to play like a team and figure out what is best for the community. ... It would be nice to have a job where you don't have all the bickering."
He said he was proud to say he conceived a plan, approved last week by legislators, to allow the city to pump money into a state fund to help cover the retiree health-care shortfall. Councilors could solve the liability issue right now, he said, by reaching agreement on where the money should come from.
But At Large Councilor Jim Stauber, often on the opposite side of issues from the mayor, said, "I think this council has done a very good job of addressing all issues in the city." Stauber argued that it is the City Council that has driven the health-care issue toward a resolution, not Bergson.