Former longtime Bemidji mayor Doug Peterson dies
BEMIDJI - Doug Peterson, former longtime mayor of Bemidji, died Tuesday morning at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, his family confirmed Wednesday. He was 75.
Peterson was mayor from 1975 through 2000, a period when the west side of Bemidji was developed from plain forest into a wide swath of retail stores and restaurants.
"My father told me when I was first elected mayor, 'You can lead this community to either grow or die. And there's no in-between,’ " Peterson told Minnesota Public Radio in 2001. "You don't stand still forever … and I chose to try to make it grow."
Peterson also forged a connection between Bemidji and the city of New Orleans, signing a proclamation declaring the two as “sister cities” with then-New Orleans Mayor Ernest Morial in 1986.
In addition to his role as mayor, Peterson served his community as a volunteer firefighter and a member of the city council. He held a variety of private sector jobs, including as a salesman for Little Falls Granite Works for three decades and as co-owner of several small businesses.