Former Duluth + Superior Mayor Herb Bergson Passes Away
Herbert William "Herb" Bergson - the former Mayor of both Duluth and of Superior - has passed away. "Herb" as he was known, died Thursday, February 10, 2022 from what's being reported as "complications from cancer surgery". Bergson was 65.
The legacy Bergson leave the Twin Ports communities is long, with many accomplishments during his long career in public service; first as a police patrolman and later as the only person to have served as Mayor in both Twin Ports cities - first in Superior and later in Duluth. He was also on the Duluth City Council for a short period of time.
Bergson's entry into the political world came first as Mayor of the City of Superior from 1987 to 1995. He had been on the city's police department when he decided to run against incumbent Bruce Hagen. When he left office in 1995, Bergson returned to the Superior Police Department as a detective.
But politics still called to Bergson. In 1999, Bergson ran an unsuccessful campaign to become the Mayor of the City of Duluth. In 2001, he started service on the Duluth City Council. Then in 2003 - when Mayor Gary Doty retired from office, Bergson entered the race for the Mayoral role, winning "57 percent of the vote over local businessman Charlie Bell".
Bergson's years in the office as Mayor of Duluth were somewhat turbulent and productive. It took a while for him to find his leadership role - translating what worked in the smaller community of Superior to the bigger impact that the role had as Mayor of Duluth. By his second term, he made great inroads towards curbing the red ink that plagued the city budget.
His time in office in Duluth ended during the "crowded 12-candidate primary" which led towards the end of his term in 2008.
Some of his decisions and implementations were met with controversy. Many of those accomplishments continue to stand - years after they were initially delivered. One that Bergson was most proud of was that he was the first Mayor of Duluth to officially recognize gay rights, signing a proclamation endorsing the issue.
During an interview on TPT/Almanac early in his tenure as Mayor in Duluth, Bergson discussed the path that eventually found him in his then-present role:
After leaving office in Duluth Bergson disappeared from politics, but had an unfortunate series of very-public run ins with the law. Three separate drunk driving charges were levied against him in the years between 2005 and 2018; one of the charges stemmed from Bergson crashing into a bridge near Spooner, Wisconsin while another saw him arrested after crashing a vehicle into a tree and leaving the scene. In each of these cases, an impassioned Bergson offered very public apologies for his behavior.
It could be argued that these cases later in his life might not have garnered the press or attention that they did had the then-private Herb Bergson hadn't spent much of his earlier life in the public eye.