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Vanderwerker files for Brainerd's Ward 2

Dirk Vanderwerker sees a need to protect and preserve Brainerd’s residential neighborhoods. That’s one reason, he said, why he filed on Friday for the Ward 2 seat on the Brainerd City Council.

“I think that’s critical,” he said. “What we don’t want for any city is declining property values resulting in climbing tax rates. I would want to see both the quality of housing improve with the hope that property values would certainly remain stable or increase and help keep our tax rates down.”

He said he opposed the former plan for The Center and Northern Pines Mental Health to operate in the former Whittier Elementary School, on the grounds that that use would be too intense for the neighborhood.

The north Brainerd resident called for transparency and openness in city government, pledging that in all but the most minor votes he would clearly state his rationale for voting the way he did.

Vanderwerker, 59, said the city must be cautious about spending since Brainerd’s unemployment is among the highest of cities of its size in the state.

“I just think we have to be really sensitive,” he said.

A self-employed financial planner who works part-time at Nisswa Tax Service, Vanderwerker served on a city zoning ordinance review task force in 2005-2006; served six years on a church council and stewardship committee; and has a master’s degree in journalism.

He was one of 11 candidates who had applied for the council vacancy that occurred when council member Bonnie Cumberland died.

He will run against incumbent council member Kelly Bevans.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or Follow on Twitter at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860