Baxter has a race.
Gary Walters, a proponent of a Brainerd-Baxter merger study filed for mayor Friday, creating the first contested race for a Baxter post this year.
Filing earlier were Mayor Gary Muehlhausen and two incumbent council members, Craig MacDonald and Barb Wells.
The Brainerd City Council members whose terms are up, at-large members Lucy Nesheim and Gene Goedker, First Ward member Jim Dehen and Third Ward member Gary Scheeler, have no challengers yet.
Filings for city offices close Tuesday.
Walters, the owner of American Lifestyle Agency, an insurance agency, ran unsuccessfully for the Legislature's House District 12B in 1998.
He said that while conducting a petition drive for the merger study people asked him to run for mayor.
"Many in our community feel the current council will not give it (the study) a fair shake," he said in a statement. "I've been asked to run for mayor to make sure the merger issue is studied by people who don't have a predetermined idea what the outcome will be.
"Our city is growing at an extreme rate," he said. "This fast growth puts a strain on our system and requires strong leadership and solid, yet flexible planning. Sewer and water will continue to be a big topic."
Walters said additional parks, recreation areas and schools are important to the community.
"My goal will be to keep this an outstanding place to live, work and play," he said.
The father of four, Walters is active in area school, sports and civic organizations and recreation programs.
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