Opening up access to Brainerd city government will be the top priority of Jim Sykes of northeast Brainerd if he's elected to city council this fall. He formally announced his candidacy for the Ward 3 seat held by Gary Scheeler on Friday.
"My No. 1 goal is going to be to open up city government to the public," he said.
Sykes said he'll run as part of a "group effort" with Alderman Bob Olson (at-large), Rob Fitzsimmons (Ward 1) and a Michael D. Brusseau, who would run for one of two at-large seats. Brusseau, Fitzsimmons and Olson confirmed their intent to run as part of a group effort.
"It takes four votes to change the council," Sykes said.
Olson, he said, has listened to his concerns. When Olson tries to raise objections in council meetings, Sykes said, he's silenced.
"They try to do it with finesse but some people don't have any finesse," he said.
Sykes said he's observed meetings where people were not allowed to speak and has had difficulty, on occasion, in his own efforts to address the council. His experiences and observations in this area were among the reasons he decided to run. He wants to see the council be more helpful to people.
"There's no friendliness, no courtesy there," he said of the council. "They're not even courteous to each other."
If citizens want to speak on a particular, subject, Sykes said, the council should consider it.
Sykes, 57, owns a construction company that does remodeling and is in his second year on the Brainerd Transportation Committee. He formerly owned Brainerd Area Taxi for five years and is a member of Community Covenant Church.
He also pledged to hold himself and city staff accountable when mistakes are made.
"My agenda is to strive to bring industry and jobs to the city," he said.
Seats that will be decided this fall are two at-large seats (Bob Olson and Lucy Nesheim), Ward 3 (Gary Scheeler) and Ward 1 (Jim Dehen).
The filing period for council seats is Aug. 24-Sept. 7.
MIKE O'ROURKE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5860.
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