Mayor Lundberg unexpectedly resigns mid-term

By: 
Jill Meier, Journal editor

City Finance Officer Christina Smith swears in Paul Lundberg as Brandon's mayor in May 2019. Jill Meier/BV Journal file photo

For the second time in less than a month, a Brandon city official has resigned. On Thursday, Mayor Paul Lundberg submitted his letter of resignation, which was effective immediately.

The announcement was posted at 2:55 p.m. Feb. 18 on the city website. According to the announcement, the city council will take formal action on the resignation at their March 1 meeting. Following that action, the process to fill the vacancy will begin. In the past, the city has asked anyone interested in filling the open position to submit a written application and go through a public interview with the council. 

In his resignation letter, Lundberg stated his reason for stepping down as mayor––a job he’s held for two-plus years––is a result of the demands of his “day job” as Business Manager of the Brandon Valley School District. This is his 31st year in that role.

“The Mayor position has been extremely demanding of my time over these two years. I told myself that when I entered into this position that I would always put the rigor of my school district position at the top of the list. The coming months will place additional restraints on my time with the school budgets and opening a new school along with the multitude of daily tasks associated with my Business Manager position,” Lundberg said in his resignation letter. 

In his role as business manager, Lundberg is tasked with overseeing a $60 million budget with a $2 million payroll. Budgets, along with opening of Inspiration Elementary later this year, weighed into his decision to step down. 

In late January, Brandon Chief of Police Joe Weir resigned his position after rallying for higher wages for department officers and plugging for better police facilities. Weir said he was “unable to garner appropriate support for either requests.”

Lundberg said his resignation had nothing to do with Weir’s resignation.

In the interim, the council appointed Lt. Jamie Steffel as chief. The position is currently being advertised, with March 15 set as the application deadline.

 

Lundberg by a landslide

The April 2019 municipal election marked Brandon’s highest voter turnout in six years, where Lundberg received 1,161 votes to defeat his opponent, then Ward 3 alderman Tim Wakefield, who received 290 votes.

Lundberg was first appointed to the position by the Brandon City Council in 2018 following Mayor Larry Beesley’s health-related resignation and was elected in 2019 to serve through May of 2023. Lundberg was sworn into office on May 6, 2019, along with council members Dave Kull, Tim Jorgenson and Dana Clark.

In the April 17, 2019 Brandon Valley Journal report on the election results, Lundberg expressed his enthusiasm for the job.

“We’re going to get a lot of things done. We’ve delayed some projects, and we’re going to start getting those accomplished,” he said. “This summer is going to be a lot of things going on. It’ll be a mess, but that’s what I want right now.”

The projects that year entailed the reconstruction of the intersection at Holly and Sioux boulevards that was originally slated for 2018.

In his resignation letter, Lundberg expressed that he is “extremely proud of what has been accomplished in the city of Brandon the last two years.” He noted a number of “lagging” infrastructure projects that have been accomplished or are in the process of being accomplished, citing the Main Avenue interceptor/major sewer trunk line, first phase of the core area reconstruction, water tower, Rushmore street reconstruction, well rehabilitation.

“We have dealt with a global pandemic with the likes that hasn’t been seen since 1918 and record-setting flooding in 2019,” he said.

Lundberg also keyed in the housing development progress that he set out to accomplish two years ago with 50 new housing starts in 2020.

“Directing the implementation of a Capital Improvement Plan (C.I.P.) has been extremely educational and beneficial to the city council in setting up a ‘road map’ to get necessary improvements accomplished for our city. Although we have come to realize that our wants outweigh our resources, it is still very important to have this plan in place for future councils and administrations,” he said.

Under Lundberg’s leadership, the city also realized a 5 percent year over year growth in sales tax revenues, which he largely attributed to the people who call Brandon “home.”

“The community stepped up and bought locally,” Lundberg said in a Jan. 6, 2021 BV Journal report. 

He also supported the authorization of $300,000 from Brandon’s Revolving Loan Fund last year, which helped keep many Brandon businesses afloat as COVID-19 forced some businesses to temporarily close their doors and others to operate with fewer customers coming through the doors. The interest-free loans in $10,000 and $20,000 increments were awarded to 17 local businesses.

“That’s another project I was very proud of, and it’s just another show of community and government coming together and working together to get something done.”

 

City council resignations/reasons since August 2017

Roger Brooks, Ward 3 – Health reasons – December 2017

Don Wells, Ward 2 – Career relocation – May 2018

Blaine Jones, Ward 1 – Relocation – July 2018

Mayor Larry Beesley – Health reasons – July 2018

Tim Wakefield – Censorship – June 2019

 

Council appointments since August 2017

Dana Clark, appointed to fill Don Wells’ chair – June 2018 

Brett Bastian, appointed to fill Don Wells’ chair – August 2018

Paul Lundberg, appointed to fill Mayor Larry Beesley’s chair – October 2018

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