After more than four years leading the city of Brainerd, Mayor Ed Menk announced his unexpected resignation during a city council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 18.

Menk, whose term lasts through Dec. 31, 2022, said he will finish his time as mayor March 31, giving the city time to find an interim replacement.

“It has been my pleasure to have served on various commissions, authorities and other city sponsored entities in the city of Brainerd since 1987,” Menk read from a letter he wrote to the council Tuesday.

“As a wise person once said, ‘There are only so many minutes in an hour, so many hours in a day, so many days in a month, so many months in a year and only so many years in a lifetime,’” his letter continued.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Menk, 71, said he is downsizing his responsibilities. He will continue to own and operate E.L. Menk Jewelers in downtown Brainerd for at least another five to 10 years, he said, and will remain active in the community and a part of the Economic Development Authority. Menk said he has family members with health issues he needs to take care of, which will not allow him to continue fulfilling the duties of mayor in a positive manner.

“I’m not planning to leave the community. I’m not planning to go out of business. I am strictly downsizing,” he said after Tuesday’s meeting. “… With the new technology, etc., in the business, plus having other obligations, I could not give full time to this position.”

Menk was appointed as Brainerd’s mayor in 2015 after the death of then-Mayor James Wallin. Menk was then elected to continue serving as mayor in both 2016 and 2018.

City council members will determine at their next council meeting how to move forward. Menk said the city will likely ask for anyone interested in the position and then appoint one of those candidates as interim mayor until the November election. If no one is chosen before Menk’s retirement, Council President Gabe Johnson would serve as acting mayor.

“I am hoping to find that there is someone or a number of people, actually, that would like to do this position,” he said.

Menk said the timing of his decision will also allow time for those interested in the mayoral position to consider filing for office during the 2020 election filing period of May 19 to June 2.

“I would like to thank the city of Brainerd, its leaders, Brainerd citizens and the entire Brainerd lakes area for their support,” Menk read from his letter to conclude the meeting.

UPDATE: This story was updated March 2 to correct the date Menk's term ends.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at