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Brainerd City Council: Terry takes Ward 1

Kara Terry beat out Leonard Skillings to represent Ward 1.

Kara Terry 2022 4.JPG
Kara Terry
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BRAINERD — Kara Terry will be a new face on the Brainerd City Council in the new year.Terry earned the Ward 1 seat in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, election with 561 votes, beating out Leonard Skillings, who garnered 437 votes. There were six write-in votes.

“I’m very happy and very humbled and very grateful,” Terry said by phone Tuesday night.

Terry brings her nine years of experience as the Crow Wing County community services director to the council, along with a term on the Champlin City Council in 2013 before moving to Brainerd.

“I’m looking forward to digging a little deeper into the workings of the city of Brainerd. I have a somewhat higher level understanding because I haven’t been involved in the board like I will be as an actual member. So I’m excited about learning more,” she said. “I’m also excited to hear more from my constituents on what they would like to see me focus on — so getting to understand more now that I’ve been elected what it is that they want me to accomplish.”

Terry is also looking forward to getting to know her fellow council members more and figure out how she fits in.

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The seat Terry earned is occupied right now by Jamie Bieser, who was appointed to the council in July after the resignation of three-term council member Dave Pritschet. Pritschet’s resignation came after he took a job as principal at Assumption Catholic School in Hibbing.

Leonard Skillings sits at table
Leonard Skillings is one of three candidates running to represent Ward 1 on the Brainerd City Council.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

Terry, Skillings and Bieser all applied to fill the vacancy after already having filed to run for the final two years of the term in this year’s special election. Bieser was appointed to the seat on a 5-1 vote, with Terry receiving one vote.

After not receiving any votes for the appointment, Skillings announced he would stop campaigning and support Bieser, though he missed the deadline to formally withdraw from the race so his name still appeared on the ballot for the August primary election. He, however, came in second in the primary, earning 114 votes to Terry’s 160.

The results meant Bieser would retain the seat for the rest of the year but would not be on the general election ballot. Skillings said he felt the people had spoken and decided to pick up his campaign.

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After Tuesday’s results, Skillings had a similar outlook.

“I’m fine,” he said. “... Whatever will is the Lord’s, so be it. Apparently he didn’t want me in there, so that’s the way it goes.”

Skillings said he gained some key insights into issues with Brainerd’s rental market during his campaign. He isn’t sure if he’ll run again in the future, but if he did, he said it would be for Brainerd City Council again.

As Terry gets ready to take office in January, she is looking back on what she learned during her time campaigning.

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“I very much dig into issues and learn a lot about different things the city is facing, and I found that I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I still don’t know everything yet,” she said. “So as I was out talking to people, I learned that there are a whole lot of other things that I wasn’t necessarily paying attention to or didn’t know that they rose to significant issue within our community.”

Ward 1 covers the downtown area and much of southwest Brainerd.

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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