The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 6, 2006

Brinker to seek House seat

Former councilman wants fair funding

ST. PETER — Amid the clink of coffee cups and the clatter of silverware at Ooodles Cafe, former St. Peter City Councilman Joel Brinker announced Thursday he will run for the state House of Representatives.

During what Brinker called “my first-ever press conference,” the Republican candidate spoke to a small audience of reporters and waitresses. Most of the customers fled the cafe when the media barged in at 10:30 a.m.

Brinker said he would bring common sense to the Capitol, defining the term by quoting Harriet Beecher Stowe: “Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.”

Brinker said he will bring his common sense to bear on several key issues, including property-tax reform and the fair distribution of Local Government Aid. He would also strengthen local control of education and promote the renewable fuels produced by local farmers.

In July, Brinker announced he would not seek re-election to the City Council, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. They include his wife, Kim, and a teenage son and daughter.

But in November, Rep. Ruth Johnson, DFL-St. Peter, made public her plans to retire. That reignited Brinker’s interest in running for state office, and his children told him: “Go ahead, dad.”

“With her dropping out of the race, I thought, ‘Here’s my opportunity,’” he said.

He added he would not have run against Johnson, whom he had worked with and respected. Instead, his likely DFL opponent will be Terry Morrow, a Gustavus Adolphus College communications professor.

Brinker was raised in St. Peter and now works as a real estate agent for HomStar USA. Morrow is a New York transplant, but the two regularly cross paths in the small town; Morrow coaches Brinker’s son’s soccer team.

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