O’Day, Stunek lead Brainerd at-large race; Stenglein ahead in Ward 3
As of midnight Tuesday, Nov. 3, newcomer Mike O’Day and incumbent Kevin Stunek led the race for an at-large seat on the Brainerd City Council.
The four-way race for the two at-large seats also included incumbent Jan Lambert, who was in third, and challenger Cheryl Petersen.
O’Day had 3,193 votes, with all precincts reporting, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State. Results, though, were not yet official. Stunek was in second with 2,286 votes.
O’Day, 33, is a chiropractor at Lakes Chiropractic in downtown Brainerd. He grew up in Brainerd and serves on the city’s Economic Development Authority and charter commission. As a young candidate, he believes he can bring new energy to the council and wants to work to combat Brainerd’s high poverty rate and low median income by attracting more businesses with quality jobs. He wants to improve the city’s overall image, especially in highly visible blighted areas.
O’Day could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Stunek, 68, is in line for his second term on the council. He has lived in Brainerd for more than 60 years. He is a retired fire chief and also has experience in the mental health field.
After retiring from the fire department, he said he didn’t actually want to run for the council but was talked into it by fellow firefighters and local police officers.
“Now that I’m in it for four years, you kind of get sucked in because I’m involved in a lot of things … and you want to finish what you do.”
Stunek serves as council liaison to the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission, the senior center board and the Brainerd Community Action Board of Directors. Stunek wants to work to continue moving Brainerd forward by expanding employment opportunities, promoting the development of housing for all and supporting schools, public safety workers, hospitals and citizens in general.
He plans on calling it quits after his second term, as he believes in term limits and giving others a chance to step up and serve. Though the results were not final Tuesday night, he said he was hopeful.
Lambert, who is serving her first term on the council, was in third place with 1,691 votes, followed by Petersen with 1,434.
Lambert, 66, said Tuesday night she was disappointed but humbled to have served on the council in the first place and happy with what she accomplished. If the results stand, she said she would be happy to have more free time to spend with her eight grandchildren.
“The biggest thing is the fact that it was nice to work with a group of people that allowed us to agree to disagree,” she said.
Challenger Tiffany Stenglein looked to have edged out incumbent Wayne Erickson in the Brainerd Ward 3 race Tuesday night.
According to the Minnesota Secretary of State, Stenglein had 628 votes to Erickson’s 592.
Ward 3 covers northeast Brainerd from North 10th Street east to Jordan Road Northeast and from just south of Highway 210 to the Mississippi River.
Stenglein, 36, is a member support specialist at Girl Scouts Lakes and Pines and will serve her first term as an elected official. She grew up in Brainerd, attended Lowell Elementary School and has owned her home in northeast Brainerd for a little over 10 years. She said she wants to bring the community together to encourage everyone to help build a better Brainerd.
Receiving the news at midnight and trying to wrap her head around the numbers, Stenglein said she was excited to get up the following morning and start doing the work for the community to help build a better Brainerd.
Erickson, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday night, was appointed to fill a vacancy on the council when former Ward 3 representative Dave Badeaux took up the mayoral position after the resignation of Mayor Ed Menk earlier this year.
Erickson, 65, is an assistant pastor who has lived in Brainerd for over 35 years with his wife and six children. He is a former business owner and has emphasized his support of the military and police department. He serves as council liaison on the city’s parking commission, charter commission and Economic Development Authority.
Brainerd Mayor Dave Badeaux and at-large member Tad Erickson ran unopposed in their special elections, while Dave Pritschet secured another term as Ward 1 representative with no opponent. Badeaux was appointed mayor earlier this year when former Mayor Ed Menk resigned partway through his term, citing the need to spend time caring for ailing family members and not being able to fulfill the mayoral duties to the best of his abilities. Tad Erickson was appointed to fill the rest of Sue Hilgart’s term in September 2019 after Hilgart moved out of state.
THERESA BOURKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .