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Tad Erickson joins Brainerd council: Interim admin to be appointed in October

Tad Erickson.jpg
Tad Erickson

Tad Erickson, a regional transportation planner with the Region Five Development Commission, is the newest Brainerd City Council member.

Erickson earned the seat recently vacated by Sue Hilgart after Mayor Ed Menk cast the tie-breaking vote during a special meeting Monday, Sept. 9.

After the first round of anonymous ballots, the six council members were evenly split between Erickson and chiropractor Michael O’Day, meaning the other three -- Wayne Erickson, Sulamita Furman and Donald Gorham -- were eliminated.

After three rounds of a tie vote, Menk stepped in to have the final say.

“Not that I’m against either one of you. My vote is not to be reflective on anything negative of the one I do not vote for,” Menk said before inviting Tad Erickson to join the council.

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Erickson, who has lived in Brainerd for nearly a decade, will be sworn in during the next regular council meeting Monday, Sept. 16.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” he said after the meeting. “I see a lot of opportunity for Brainerd.”

During Monday’s meeting, Erickson told the council he believes his community development, transportation and economic development work within Region Five -- which encompasses five counties and 65 cities -- gives him a unique perspective of the inner workings of local government.

He has also served on the city’s planning commission.

“People always say Brainerd has so much potential,” Erickson said. “And I absolutely agree with that, but I would add I think Brainerd has a lot to offer as it is now. So I think that there’s some things we could highlight in the city.”

One challenge Erickson said he wants to tackle in Brainerd is retaining the senior population when many retire to warmer and/or more suburban areas. He cited the 2017 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau which shows about 59% of Brainerd’s population is under 39 years old.

“So I think there’s an opportunity for Brainerd to retain its senior population, but at the same time focusing on being a young, growing vibrant community as well,” Erickson said during an interview after Monday’s meeting.

Council President Gabe Johnson thanked all the candidates for taking the time to introduce themselves and urged those not chosen to remain involved in city affairs.

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Johnson added he knows how difficult it can be to go before the council and lobby for a council seat in a few short minutes, as he did the same thing himself in 2014 when there was a vacancy. He was not appointed at that time but was later elected to the council.

The council then voted for council member Kelly Bevans to replace Hilgart as council vice president.

Interim city administrator

The council also put out a call for applications for interim city administrator Monday.

Current Administrator Cassandra Torstenson submitted her resignation last week, effective Oct. 3.

Human Resources Director Kris Schubert suggested the council hold off on a decision until after meeting with a representative from David Drown and Associates Wednesday, Sept. 11, to discuss how to move forward with hiring a full-time administrator. Then she suggested the council make a decision at its meeting next week.

It was also noted two city staff members expressed interest in the position.

Bevans, however, suggested the council solicit applications, noting he had nothing against the two staffers who applied but wanted to see who else might be out there. His suggestion garnered a 4-2 vote, with council members Dave Pritschet and Jan Lambert opposing the measure.

Pritschet said he was happy with the two city employees who already expressed interest and noted there would be time for some cross-training with Torstenson.

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Instead, anyone is welcome to apply for the position, which will likely last about six months. Applications will be available on the city’s website at http://ci.brainerd.mn.us/ or at city hall, 501 Laurel St.

Applications will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. Oct. 2. The council will hear from candidates and appoint the interim administrator at its regular meeting Oct. 7.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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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