Crow Wing County Board District 3: Barrows to return to County Board table

Looking ahead to a second term, Barrows said his top issue is addressing issues with the workforce.

Steve Barrows headshot
Steve Barrows.
Chelsey Perkins / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Crow Wing County Commissioner Steve Barrows earned another four years representing District 3 on the County Board.

It was a tight race throughout the night, with the final tally among eight precincts in District 3 resulting in a 151-vote margin. Barrows earned 2,260 votes, while Brainerd City Council member Tad Erickson received 2,109 votes. There were 17 write-in votes.

Barrows described himself as ecstatic during a phone call just after midnight Tuesday.

“I certainly want to thank the voters of District 3 and all the people in District 3 for participating in the election,” Barrows said. “Kudos to Tad for the race he ran. It was the quietest race of the three in Crow Wing County. I think we both worked hard and I think the voters spoke. I am excited to have another four years to work on the issues that we will be facing in those four years.”

Barrows, 74, retired after a nearly 30-year career at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, where he spent time working at the former state hospital near Brainerd and later in accounting for the agency. The married father of four and two stepchildren previously served on the Baxter City Council before pursuing an open County Board seat in 2018.


Looking ahead to a second term, Barrows said his top issue is addressing issues with the workforce.

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“With workforce, there’s the tentacles that go out there for day care, child care, that go with that. And training, you know. What are other things that we can do there?” Barrows said. “We’re going to be looking at some of the affordable housing … and what can we do around the county to enhance that, so that people can actually afford to live in a place and not be couch jumping all over the place.”

Barrows said he also wants to work with northeast and southeast Brainerd residents with getting neighborhood associations back up and running while encouraging a collaborative effort between local law enforcement and the sheriff’s office. He said he hopes to keep county spending under control as the country heads into an uncertain economic future.

In the last weeks of his campaign, Barrows spent time at the roundabout near Forestview Middle School in Baxter to wave at families passing through.

“That was one of my strategies,” Barrows said. “ … I let the parade come to me instead of going to the parade. I haven’t perfected my parade wave.”

Erickson said early Wednesday morning he was very disappointed in the results but congratulated Barrows.

“I just want to express my congratulations to Steve Barrows for his victory, and I thought we both ran fair, honest races,” Erickson said.

Tad Erickson.jpg
Tad Erickson.

In addition to a term on the Brainerd City Council, Erickson spent time as a Brainerd Planning Commission member and has spent a decade working as a transportation planner with the Region Five Development Commission in Staples.


The 37-year-old who originally hails from Little Falls now lives in south Brainerd with his wife and three children. He also runs a small business renting bicycles, kayaks and paddleboards, and for four years, he’s delivered pizza for Domino’s for extra income.

Erickson said he has no specific plans at the moment other than spending more time with his family. Because he opted to run for Crow Wing County Board, he gave up his seat on the City Council.

“I put in so much time and effort. I door-knocked the whole district,” Erickson said. “I’m just looking forward to spending time with my family. They’ve been really, really great during this campaign.”

Erickson described campaigning as an absolute joy.

“Just talking to people throughout the district was really an enlightening experience and it was really gratifying to talk to so many people,” he said. “ … I think all candidates go in expecting to win or wanting to win. Obviously, I wanted to be on the other side of this but I was also encouraged how close it was.”

CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or Follow on Twitter at

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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