February 4, 1902: Trevanion Hugo elected to second term as Duluth’s mayor

Trevanion Hugo, Duluth mayor form 1900 to 1904 and again in 1920. (Image: Duluth Public Library.)

On this day in Duluth in 1902, Mayor Trevanion Hugo, a Republican, was reelected as Duluth’s chief executive, despite having declared the previous December that he would not run for a second term. Despite his wish to bow out of the 1902 election, Hugo’s supporters began a petition drive that convinced him to run again. In December he beat fellow Republican Darwin Stevens in the primary. On February 4, 1902, he went up against Henry Truelson, a Democrat who had served as mayor from 1896 to 1900—Hugo had won the 1900 election by just six votes. In 1902, Hugo won by eight votes and joked that he congratulated himself for having “made two new friends” between elections. Truelson demanded a recount, which went back and forth, and in the end, Hugo had a plurality of five votes. It wasn’t until July of 1902 that a Minnesota Supreme Court decision officially placed Hugo back in the mayor’s office. Back then, the mayor had a lot of powers, among them appointing city officials. Often from 1888 until 1913, mayors would appoint members of their political parties as city officials. When Truelson, a Democrat, was in office, Thomas McGilvray, also a Democrat, was appointed City Engineer—it was his idea to build an aerial transfer bridge. When Hugo took over, McGilvray lost his post to Republican William Patton, who oversaw much of the bridge’s construction. But political affiliations meant little to the engineers themselves; together they owned Duluth Engineering, and when one worked as the city’s engineer, the other ran the company. Read more about Mayor Hugo here.

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