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opinion Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

The recent guest opinion says that it is seeking the truth, but contains little truth. In November 2012 Brainerd business owner Gary Scheeler won the election for Ward 3 city council with 540 votes.

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The second place finisher Jeff Czeczok received 448 votes. On Oct. 28, 2013 Mr. Czeczok filed a complaint concerning the 2012 election against Mr. Scheeler based on statements Mr. Scheeler made at a city council meeting in January 2013, which Mr. Czeczok says that he listened to in June 2013. Mr. Czeczok claimed that Mr. Scheeler violated campaign rules by suggesting that a homeless person apply for a job at his business, and by helping a woman who told him that she had nothing but bread for dinner for her children provide a meal for them. Mr. Czeczok has been the subject of a restraining order granted against him in favor of Mr. Scheeler due to death threats made by Mr. Czeczok.

On Dec. 2, 2013, Mr. Czeczok filed a second complaint against Mr. Scheeler claiming that Mr. Scheeler gave a northeast Brainerd woman a Cub Foods gift card as an inducement to vote for him. Mr. Czeczok attached an affidavit of Mary Koep, a sitting councilperson in which Mrs. Koep claimed that she spoke with a northeast Brainerd resident who told Mrs. Koep that Mr. Scheeler gave her a gift card from Cub Foods. Mrs. Koep went on to say that she was told by the woman that she was afraid of retaliation by Mr. Scheeler that “my house could be burned down, my property vandalized”

Mrs. Koep indicated that she spoke with the woman in February or March 2013, and made her statements in a sworn affidavit dated Nov. 21, 2013.

A number of questions come to mind: Why did Mr. Czeczok wait four months after he listened to Mr. Scheeler’s statements to file a complaint?

Why did Mrs. Koep wait nine months to file hers?

If Mr. Scheeler were doing anything wrong, why would he discuss it at a council meeting in front of Mrs. Koep, other council members and city staff which was being recorded? “Closed” council meeting minutes concerning negotiations are open to the public after the negotiations are completed. Mr. Scheeler has nothing to hide because he has done nothing wrong.

What is wrong with suggesting that a homeless person apply for a job? The homeless rarely vote, and he probably did not live in Ward 3.

What is wrong with providing a meal to a woman and her children who have nothing but bread for dinner? I would be concerned about a person who would walk away from children with nothing but bread for supper without helping. Mr. Scheeler did what I, and I hope anyone would do in that situation.

As Paul Harvey used to say, now for the rest of the story. After the Dispatch article ran last weekend, Mr. Scheeler received a voicemail message from the woman discussed by Mrs. Koep for whom he purchased a Cub Foods gift card for reasons unrelated to the campaign. I have listened to the message, I have a copy at my office. This is what it said, I have taken out her name and telephone number to protect her privacy: “Gary, this is _______ (name and telephone number omitted) if you have a minute if you could give me a call. I read the paper and there’s some lies in there that I would like you to know about. ‘I am not afraid of you’ is one thing and when that all came up I don’t know...and I was not the one that talked to Mary, it was secondhand information. So, um maybe you don’t want to even talk about it... um thank you.”

This statement was not heard by the judge who dismissed Mr. Czeczok’s complaint due to it being filed more than a year after the election. If the judge had heard this I suspect that he would have dismissed the complaint regardless of when it was filed.

The statement of the woman involved directly contradicts the statements made by Mrs. Koep under oath. The woman involved said that she did not feel threatened in any way, and that she never spoke directly to Mrs. Koep. Minnesota law defines perjury as the making of a false material statement under oath knowing it to be false. Mrs. Koep’s claims that she talked to the woman involved, and that she told Mrs. Koep that she felt threatened by Mr. Scheeler are clearly false. Mrs. Koep owes the citizens of Brainerd an explanation. The citizens of Ward 3 deserve to be represented by the candidate they elected last year, and for the 2012 election to be over.

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