BRAINERD – Crow Wing County Commissioner Bill Brekken will not be seeking re-election to his District 2 seat.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as Crow Wing County Commissioner,” Brekken said, thanking voters for the opportunity to represent them on county council. The Brekken District includes the towns of Crosslake, Jenkins, Pequot Lakes, Breezy Point and Nisswa.
Brekken said that after a sleepless night before making the announcement, he felt it was the right decision and wanted to allow time for others who may have an interest in serving and representing the District 2. The filing period closes Tuesday, May 31.
Elected in 2018 for his first term on the county council, Brekken is currently vice-chairman of the council and sits on 15 committees. Brekken narrowly won the 2018 county race, upsetting longtime incumbent Paul Thiede. Brekken won the seat by 85 votes.
Before running for public office, Brekken ran the department store chain Herberger for 17 years at the Brainerd site, then served on the board of Lakewood Bank, then served as its business development coordinator for seven. year. Brekken, 70, joked that he had tried retirement several times. He is also a real estate agent and has several other irons in the fire and commitments, which he said were part of the reasons for his sole tenure, although he also likes the idea of bringing new people to the board. .
Brekken said he’s proud of the current board and members’ accomplishments in lowering the tax, paying down the county’s debt to the point where it’s debt-free, and rebuilding financial reserves.
“I think one of the first things I feel good about is that the county, I think, is in good financial shape,” Brekken said.
With money in the bank, Brekken said, the county is on the path to a pay-as-you-go financial plan instead of essentially needing to borrow money to fund projects.
“Thus, future expenses should hopefully be prepared and paid, which will ease the tax burden,” he said.
In terms of other accomplishments, Brekken highlighted the county’s work with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act money it received two years ago during the pandemic.
“We had $6 million that went back into the community and businesses and nonprofits,” he said. “So we really extended that.”
Other areas that stand out for him include protecting shorelines and water quality, developing an ordinance on short-term vacation home rentals, improving interactions and good working with the Soil and Water Conservation District, making changes so that Lake Improvement Districts can take responsibility for themselves. to protect water quality.
Brekken said they have established a strong relationship with the lake associations and work well together and support each other.
“So in the end, with this financial stability that we have and the way we have built these reserves, I feel good about the work that the current county commissioners have done. And I’m proud to be part of this group. The reason I decided not to show up is that I have a number of personal commitments that I am committing to and want to be able to give them 100% of my effort – and I need to let go taken a bit,” Brekken said. “And maybe in a way I believe in term limits.”
Brekken said he encouraged people to take a look at the county council headquarters depot.
“I see more work being done at the county commissioner level, at the city and township level, it’s not happening at the state level and at the federal level,” Brekken said. “And the residents benefit from that, especially if we are financially responsible for what happens.”
The work has been rewarding as a public service, Brekken said. The electoral process, he said, also shows the value of the vote as those elected control what the county’s path will look like. Brekken also spoke about the dedication of county employees to the work they do every day.
“They are professional, hardworking and loyal,” he said.
Brekken said he learned a lot in the District 2 service process and saw the value of nonpartisan elections for the township, city and county. Working at the local level, Brekken said the influence can be almost immediate compared to the state or federal level. Brekken said he has a lot of respect for these nonpartisan elected officials and their contribution to the community.
“I would encourage anyone to take this opportunity by wanting to file,” he said.
The filing period ends on May 31. For more information on applying, visit bit.ly/3GoXwoG.
Renee Richardson, Managing Editor, can be reached at 218-855-5852 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.