Bolen among 20 under 40 movers and shakers
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
Two Harbors Mayor Randy Bolen was honored along with 19 other local recipients at the seventh-annual 20 Under 40 awards in Duluth.
The honorees were recognized for having risen above their peers as community leaders, mentors and examples of achievement while still in their 20s and 30s, as the name suggests. Bolen was among a group of young educators, business and human-service professionals, civil servants and a professional boxer.
The event was held at Clyde Iron Works and included a brief address by Duluth Mayor Don Ness, who was among the first cohort of winners in 2006. He praised this year’s winners; most live and work in the Twin Ports, but Ness also recognized his colleague from the North Shore.
“It’s wonderful to see the talent our community is generating, and I was just so impressed that Mayor Bolen was (among the winners),” Ness said. He added that 20 Under 40 award recipients have a responsibility to lend a hand to younger generations, thereby contributing to the development of greater numbers of community leaders for the future. Bolen identifies both Ness and a well-known U.S. senator from Minnesota as having modeled leadership for him.
“Politically, Paul Wellstone has long been my political hero and will always be a source of inspiration. And Don Ness continues to be a role model for all mayors to aspire to,” Bolen said. On a personal level, he said it was the birth of his twin sons that made the biggest impression on him. In fact, he sports a permanent reminder of the experience — tattoos of the babies’ birth certificate footprints on his forearms.
Bolen, 37, has served as Two Harbors’ mayor for five years and attended the 20 Under 40 event with his wife, Tara, their parents and friends of the couple. He said he couldn’t have imagined being mayor a decade ago, but that the office feels like a good fit.
“I don’t know how to not give 100 percent, and I take pride in doing everything I possibly can to help better my community,” he said, adding that his goal is to “push my community and our region toward prosperity. I would like to continue to be an aggressive and progressive leader for my community, as well as doing what I can to help the entire region prosper. We’re all in this together, and we have to work together as leaders to better prosper our region.”
Of the award, Bolen said he was “humbled” to be recognized. He said he is proud to play a part — along with the city council — in creating a vision and trajectory for Two Harbors.
“I accept this award on behalf of the city,” he said. “It takes a long time to steer a ship in a new direction, and I believe we’re moving in a good direction. It’s a collective effort. There’s no ‘I’ in team.”