"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.
Duggan's political rise began with the IOWA TRUST FUND scandal. As the vice president of an ad hoc committee looking into the city's investment procedures, Duggan received widespread publicity which led him to being called "Mr. Mayor" in public. Business officials encouraged him to campaign for the office focusing on the city's North End. In a six-person primary, Duggan received 57% of the vote and then won the 1993 election against 12-year incumbent James BRADY with 78% of the vote. (1) He ran uncontested in 1997 and in 2001 received 76 % of the vote. (2)
Duggan worked cooperatively with the new city manager, Michael VAN MILLIGEN and Richard E. (Rick) DICKINSON who led the GREATER DUBUQUE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION. Realizing that companies liked to position civic leaders against each other, the three agreed never to disagree in public. (3) In his first term, Duggan introduced the "Come Back to Your Future" campaign encouraging former residents to return home. (4)
Many achievements of the city during his tenure were related to the development of TOURISM. These included further development of the ICE HARBOR including the opening of the Grand River Center (2003). Architects plans for the proposed $25 million Mississippi River Discovery Center were unveiled to the public on January 19, 1998. The "America's River Project" was a combined effort of the DUBUQUE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY, City of Dubuque, and the DUBUQUE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. (5)
Considered a major project of Dubuque’s $188 million-dollar river renovation effort, the five-acre campus of the NATIONAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER MUSEUM AND AQUARIUM came to house the William Woodward Discovery Center, NATIONAL RIVERS HALL OF FAME, FRED W. WOODWARD RIVERBOAT MUSEUM, Pfohl Boatyard, a wetland, and a refurbished train depot. He also oversaw the expansion of the city park system, reconstruction or overlayment of fifty percent of the city's streets, and the Highway 20, 151 and 61 improvements. (6)
Duggan was opposed to the opening of the TOWN CLOCK PLAZA for traffic although the project was approved. He famously was against "team-building" at public expense and was quoted as saying, "I'm not going to FOUR MOUNDS and sing 'Kumbaya.'" (7)
In an interview published in 2003, Duggan stated that the most exciting thing that happened during years as mayor was the saving of FDL FOODS INC. the first time. He felt that demonstrated that great things could happen in Dubuque--a feeling that, he felt, had been lost in the late 1980s and early 1990s due to the declining economy. (8)
Despite being a registered Democrat throughout his three terms as mayor, Duggan switched parties and joined the GOP in 2006. On April 11, 2006 he was the master of ceremonies at a fund-raiser in Des Moines for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle. The guest of honor was President George H. W. Bush. (9)
Duggan served on many boards including the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce, the Dubuque Metropolitan Transportation Study, the East Central Intergovernmental Agency, the Northeast Iowa Boys Scouts and the Community Advisory Board of the Dubuque Area Labor Management Board. Mayor Duggan also served on the Iowa Department of Economic Development Board from 2001-2005. (10)
1. Cooper, Brian, "Past Ten Years a Great Experience," Telegraph Herald, November 2, 2003, p. 1
2. Bragg, Mary Rae, "Duggan Played Key Role in City's Rise," Telegraph Herald, November 10, 2008, p. 72
3. Bragg, Mary Rae, "Dickinson Helps Put City on the Map," Telegraph Herald, September 15, 2008, p. 57
4. Bragg, "Duggan Played Key Role..."
5. Krapfl, Mike. "Officials Release Architect's Plans For Proposed River Discovery Center," Telegraph Herald, January 20, 1998, p. 3A.
6. Kundert, Rob, "Duggan's Legacy: City Pride, Telegraph Herald, January 2, 2006, p. 1
7. Eller, Donnelle, "Team-Building Funds Split Council," Telegraph Herald, January 4, 1995, p. 3
9. "Duggan Changes Parties in Time for Party," Telegraph Herald, April 11, 2006, p. 1
11. "Biz People," Telegraph Herald, June 5, 2014, p. 69