Hilgart to leave Brainerd City Council in September

Sue Hilgart

Come September, the Brainerd City Council will have a new face, but who that will be is up in the air.

Sue Hilgart, council member at-large, announced during a council workshop Monday, July 22, she plans to move out of state in September, thus vacating her council seat.

Hilgart, who was re-elected to her second four-year term last year, said she was not planning to leave the council now but couldn’t pass up a new job opportunity that came up in Arizona, a place she said she and her husband planned on spending their retirement in the future.

“I never anticipated leaving, that’s for sure,” Hilgart said after Monday’s meeting, noting the timing is not ideal but the new opportunity seems like the right move for her.

During her nearly five years spent on the council, Hilgart said she is proud of the work she has taken part in.


“I do feel like a lot of the work that I’ve been a part of has been so very positive. Not to say we haven’t been without disagreements, but there’s been accomplishments that have come with it,” she said, specifically noting the efforts to save the historic water tower, the Buffalo Hills Lane project and the city’s long-term capital improvement plan. She also noted the city’s finances are on track.

“I regret the early departure,” she said after Monday’s meeting. “I planned to serve two terms because I felt like two terms, eight years, is the time that a citizen should invest in a leadership position and that it would be time then for someone else to step up and take on a leadership role, and so I do regret not being able to fulfill the full four-year term.”

Hilgart said her time on the council has been a great learning experience and she encourages everyone to get involved in their community in some capacity.

“I think the things that I learned being on the council are things that I will take with me to my new community. There’s always opportunities to be involved in your community, and I know that,” she said. “Citizens have a voice. They just have to use it by getting involved.”

Council President Gabe Johnson said he will work with the city attorney to decide how to move forward. The council will likely take applications for a temporary council member and appoint that person in September. A special election would then take place in November 2020 to fill the last two years of Hilgart’s term.

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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