During his last year at UMD, Zack Filipovich caught word that the city was planning on putting meters all along St. Marie Street, and he immediately took action. St. Marie is a prime parking location for students dedicated enough to show up to campus while most others are still fast asleep. They can leave their cars parked there all day, and, best of all, it’s free.
“Now, with parking meters, if you have a class or two and you plug a $1.25 in, the day-to-day cost isn’t truly that much,” Filipovich said. “But students go to school every day. So, the cost will greatly impact students, not to mention the time that students are going to have to take to run back out to the meter and re-plug it.”
Filipovich was able to keep St. Marie Street meter-free by working together with the Duluth City Council and the city parking commission. Now, just a few months after graduating from UMD, he’s running for an at-large Duluth City Council seat.
“I am, and have always been, a political junkie, a policy wonk,” Filipovich said. “When I was at UMD, I led the student lobby team down to the capitol on multiple occasions each year, even lobbying for students on the campus level, talking with Chancellor Black and others to better the campus for students.”
While at UMD, Filipovich was brought in as the director of the Student Legislative Coalition before becoming the financial officer his senior year. He was also the vice president of administration and finance, during which time he managed a total of $90,000.
With a strong background in politics and financing, Filipovich announced his candidacy on July 2, although just a week before this date he had no intentions of running.
“I knew I was going to be running for a political office at some point in my life—I did not expect it to be this early, or to be this particular race,” Filipovich said.
Instead, Filipovich was working on the campaign for current at-large councilor Dan Hartman. “I was going to be his treasurer, and I was his treasurer up until he got his dream job at Glensheen, which he loves. So, he dropped out.”
The UMD grad made what he called “a quick, but thoughtful decision” after meeting with a number of close politicos to try and figure out if he should run or not.
“I talked with eight or nine people in that time to see what they thought, my chances of winning, if they would be supportive or not, just to kind of get a general feel . . . and they were supportive and they were encouraging,” Filipovich said.
After making the decision to run, Filipovich began putting together a campaign team comprised almost totally of former and current UMD students .
“There is a lot of behind-the-scenes planning that no one besides the campaign team ever sees,” Filipovich said. “It’s, quite frankly, kind of boring. But it’s necessary. Those are the times where you get your message down and you figure out the actual campaign plan on the calendar.”
Filipovich said there are no signs of slowing down on his campaign. He plans on working closely with the student group College Democrats to help facilitate student voting and getting students involved in any way that they can.
“These are decisions that can affect people in huge ways,” Filipovich said. “Everything from zoning on where rental properties can be, if they can be close to campus or further away from campus, to bike lanes in the city, to parking meters. It really all ties together.
At-large Councilor Hartman is very excited to see Filipovich carry his political involvement from UMD into the community, just like he did after graduating from UMD.
“I think with Zack’s focus on budgets and economic development, he’s well-positioned to possibly take my seat on the City Council,” Hartman said. “I look forward to having the roles switched—I’ll have a great conversation with Zack about public policy and his role as a councilor, hopefully.”
Filipovich is running against four other candidates, but after the primaries on Sept. 10, one candidate will be knocked out of the race. The rest will fight for two available at-large seats before Duluthians make their way to the polls on Nov. 4 for the general election.
Students interested in voting for the Duluth City Council race should go to http://www.duluthmn.gov/clerk/voting/. There, students can find their precinct and see if they’re registered to vote. Note: If you’ve voted in the past four years and have not moved, you are registered to vote.
By KIM HYATT firstname.lastname@example.org