Brainerd City Council: Johnson keeps Ward 4 seat

Gabe Johnson won his third term on the Brainerd City Council representing Ward 4.

Gabe Johnson
Gabe Johnson is running for a third term on the Brainerd City Council in the 2022 election.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Incumbent Gabe Johnson bested challenger Emily LeClaire to retain his seat representing Ward 4 on the Brainerd City Council.

“I’m very thankful for those voters and all of the people in my ward who trust me to continue to represent them,” Johnson said after the results came in Tuesday night.

Johnson, who owns the digital advertising consultancy firm Devine Johnson Marketing, received 423 votes, compared to LeClaire’s 394, winning by 29 votes.

This term will be Johnson’s third on the council after having been first elected in 2014. He currently serves as chair of the council’s Personnel and Finance Committee and the council liaison to the Brainerd Economic Development Authority, Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Brainerd Public Utilities Commission.

The biggest project Johnson said the council will work on in the next four years is the reconstruction of Highway 210/Washington Street, planned for 2026.


“It’s just a really big deal for this community,” he said, noting he also looks forward to continuing to represent southeast Brainerd the best he can.

Emily LeClaire
Emily LeClaire is a 2022 candidate for Brainerd City Council Ward 4.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

LeClaire, a single mother who works as children’s ministry coordinator at an Aitkin church and ran her campaign on a desire to bring more equal representation to the city, said she appreciates the close race and is already looking forward to the next thing and plans to run for another election eventually.

“I think we can always learn more with each time and there’s always going to be a place for people who want to work,” she said Tuesday night.

What she learned this time around was all about empowering voters.

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“Encouraging people to vote is what matters most about any campaign,” she said.

After running unopposed for his last term, Johnson applauded LeClaire for running.

“I thank Emily LeClaire for putting herself out there and putting her name on the ballot and making this a democracy, not making this something where Gabe just wins but the people have a choice,” he said.

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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