While the fifth seat of the Baxter City Council won’t have a candidate on the ballot, there won’t be a shortage of hopefuls vying for the seat with a write-in campaign.
Lon Schmidt, 66, announced he’ll be running a write-in campaign for the Baxter City Council seat previously occupied by Todd Holman. Schmidt has at least one opponent for the seat, former state Rep. John Ward, who’s also launched a write-in campaign. Currently, two seats are up for election on Nov. 3. The top two vote-getters move on to the council. With the write-in campaigns coming after the filing period closed, there is only one declared candidate eligible for the ballot in incumbent Mark Cross, which means a write-in candidate is the most likely scenario to fill the council’s fifth chair.
Schmidt said he wants to continue what’s been an era of extraordinary growth and sound leadership in the city of Baxter and noted he has no agenda. In terms of his own personal proclivities, Schmidt said he wants to be a stabilizing force on the council in future deliberations, with an unabashedly conservative — and, in particular, fiscal conservative — philosophy. While he had nothing but praise for Holman, Mayor Darrel Olson and the rest of the council, he did express some frustration with how the city has historically handled its roadway infrastructure.
“The one thing that I would like to bring to the Baxter City Council is a sense of balance,” Schmidt said Wednesday, Sept. 23. “Anybody who’s listened to my show knows that I'm a conservative and I'm fiscally conservative. I just want to make sure that my voice is heard as a fiscal conservative. I don't believe that partisan politics play a big role in government at this level.”
Schmidt said while he’s contemplated running for public office for years, there’s neither been the opportunity, nor the need for him to join a council he said he’s been “pretty pleased” with the last few years. He also drew some distinctions with Ward, who said Sept. 17 he’d likely spend time during the winter months in Fort Myers, Florida, every year and govern on the council remotely.
“I’m not a politician,” Schmidt said. “My opponent is a seasoned politician. And I think one of the things that's very important in this is that I don't plan on being away. I only have one home and it's here in Baxter. I'm not going to leave for the wintertime, because I do believe that if you're going to run for an office you ought to be available to your constituents in the community.”
“I'm a good listener. I enjoy talking to people,” he added. “If I didn't enjoy talking to people, I wouldn't have had a very successful radio program for many years.”
Schmidt, who’s lived in Baxter since 1986 and the lakes area since 1978, is a retired radio host and career journeyman with a bent for sales who currently works part-time as a bus driver for the Brainerd School District. In that capacity, he also trains bus drivers.
Schmidt was a talk show radio host on CASH 95.9 FM until 2014, and sports experiences in a diverse range of fields — from telecommunications, to used cars sales, to a career in the armed forces dating back to the Vietnam era. He’s an elder at Christ Lutheran Church in Baxter and was a former member of the Brainerd Sertoma Club.
Beyond his work as a bus driver for the school district, when it comes to Schmidt’s family life and connections to the community, the common theme is children. Schmidt and his wife Tammy have been married for 39 years and enjoy two children and seven grandchildren — five of which, Schmidt noted, are enrolled in the Brainerd School District — while Tammy has operated an in-home day care for over 30 years.
“If you didn't like children you wouldn't be able to have a spouse that had a day care,” Schmidt said with a chuckle. “You certainly wouldn't be a school bus driver either.”