Dave Badeaux is the new mayor in Brainerd.
After Mayor Ed Menk announced his resignation from the position in February, four applicants threw their hats in the ring for the job. City council members voted 4-1 to appoint Badeaux, northeast Brainerd’s council representative, during a special meeting Monday, April 6. He was sworn in later that night.
“I’m extremely excited to take on the role,” Badeaux said after Monday’s council meeting. “It’s an honor to be selected by the council, and it’s a great feeling to know that I have their trust and that they believe that I’ll be good at this position.”
Badeaux is the executive director of Brainerd Community Action and now has vacated his seat on the city council to transition into the mayoral role.
“I want to see Brainerd become the best version of itself that it can be,” Badeaux told the rest of the council before his appointment Monday.
He emphasized communication as something the city has struggled with in the past that he hopes to strengthen in his tenure as mayor.
“One of the beauties of the mayor position is that it’s really the cheerleading position,” he said. “It’s the role that is out there helping to speak about the issues and be the voice of the citizens as well.”
Badeaux said his role at Community Action ties into the mayor position as well, as his job is to speak with community members to hear about their needs and connect them with others who can help.
“Right now, it’s a difficult task,” he said, “but I think that as a city we can rally together.”
After Badeaux’s presentation Monday, council member Kelly Bevans asked about the potential conflict of interest with Brainerd Community Action and being mayor. Bevans noted City Attorney Joe Langel’s previous opinion of there being no conflict of interest when Badeaux consulted him before taking the Community Action position but asked if being mayor would change anything.
“Are you concerned at all, Dave, that you’re going to have too many of the same eggs in one basket?” Bevans asked.
Badeaux reiterated Langel’s thoughts and said he believes any potential conflict of interest — which was minimal before — would actually be lessened in the mayor role because the mayor of Brainerd does not vote on matters except in the event of a tie.
Bevans was satisfied with that answer and said if he had to choose a head cheerleader for Brainerd, it would likely be Badeaux.
The other three applicants for the position were Heather Aanes, Kevin Goedker and council member Dave Pritschet.
Aanes said she would make a good mayor because she has seen Brainerd from many different perspectives and can easily share in both the joys and hardships of others. She said she would be a new face on the council, bringing new and different perspectives and acting as a light and voice for those who feel they may not have been heard before. As someone who uses a wheelchair, Aanes said she would try to open people’s minds and encourage them to think more about people with disabilities.
Goedker previously served on the council for eight years and said he brings experience to the table. He felt his time on the council proved he was fair and willing to work well with others. Goedker said he has desired to serve as mayor for a long time and believes he has both the connections in the community and necessary leadership skills to keep the city moving in a positive direction. Goedker also noted the council would not have a council member vacancy if he were chosen.
Pritschet is in his second term on the city council representing downtown and southwest Brainerd and said he was planning to run for mayor in 2022. Pritschet noted he has connections with those of varying age ranges in the city thanks to his job interacting with students and parents as a middle school teacher and time spent caring for his elderly mother. Pritschet said his strengths include approachability, strong listening skills and optimism as he looks for the good in every person he meets and every idea he hears.
Bevans asked Pritschet if his job as a teacher would hinder his ability to appear at any important daytime events as mayor. Pritschet said he could use paid time off for those events, as he is allotted 12 PTO days a year but usually only uses about three or four.
The five remaining council members voted 4-1 to appoint Badeaux as mayor, with Gabe Johnson, Kevin Stunek, Kelly Bevans and Jan Lambert voting for Badeaux. Tad Erickson voted for Pritschet, who said he still plans to run for re-election to his council seat in November.
Badeaux will serve through the end of 2020, and the city will have a special election in November to fill the remaining two years of Menk’s term. Badeaux said he plans on running in November and looks forward to the election process when all residents have a chance to make their voices heard.
“Given the difficult times, I think it's important to remember that we have a lot of hard work ahead of us and that our city and community are going to need to get back up and running here once this is finished,” he said after the meeting. “And I want people to know that it's important that we continue to stick together, that it’s important that we continue to support each other, and that I have nothing but respect and faith in this community.”
Menk concluded his last council meeting as mayor urging residents to continue sheltering in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic and said it has been a pleasure serving as mayor for more than four years.
“And I look forward to continue working on a different level with the city,” said Menk, who previously noted he would continue working with the city’s economic development authority.