Two west metro mayors have announced they will not seek re-election this fall: Mayor Jake Spano of St. Louis Park and Mayor Shep Harris of Golden Valley.
Harris and Spano have both been elected with more than 70% of the vote, so their decisions not to seek re-election will be a significant change in both cities' political landscapes heading into the fall elections.
Spano announced Tuesday morning that he would not run for a third term as mayor, and will leave public office in January 2024. He has served two terms as mayor, first elected in 2016 after serving one four-year term as an at-large City Council member.
"Being chosen by my community to serve as their mayor has been one of the greatest honors of my life," Spano said in a statement announcing his decision. "After 12 years on the council, it's time for me to make space for others to accept the opportunity to lead our community."
Spano said he was proud of what the city had accomplished in his years of public service, saying he was particularly proud of the progress St. Louis Park has made toward its race, equity and inclusion goals. He noted more people of color and women in leadership in St. Louis Park than when he was first elected.
Spano's announcement sets up the possibility for a significant change on the St. Louis Park City Council. In addition to choosing a new mayor, St. Louis Park voters will also cast ballots for both at-large City Council members, since one former at-large member resigned in January to serve as a state representative.
Harris is set to make his announcement during Golden Valley's council meeting Tuesday evening.
"I will continue to be an active member of this community but I have decided not to run for re-election this coming November," Harris said in a statement. He said he needs to devote more time to his family and his career, saying he has struggled with the decision for years.
The decision not to seek re-election is not related to "recent challenges" in Golden Valley, Harris said. The Police Department has struggled to recruit and retain officers since an investigation into police racism instigated by Harris. Harris has since accused former officers of sabotaging the city's police recruitment efforts.
"Right now, we are facing some public safety challenges but the City Council, our city staff, our city commissions and many in the community are rising to the occasion," Harris said. He said he wanted to announce his decision early to give the city time to vet candidates to take over those challenges.
"Rally around someone who is a healer," Harris said.