Seven candidates will face off in the special election for Brooklyn Park’s next mayor.

An April 13 primary election will narrow the field to two candidates. Following this, election day will be Aug. 10

Wynfred Russell, Hollies Winston, Mark Mata, and Boyd Morson, Yelena Kurdyumova, Benjamin Osemenam, and Lisa Jacobson filed for the election to fill the vacant mayor’s seat.

Former Mayor Jeff Lunde resigned effective Jan. 3, 2021. He now serves on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.

Candidates

Russell serves on the City Council representing the West District. He was elected in 2018. He is the director of health equity with African Career, Education, and Resource Inc.

Winston, a member of the Budget Advisory Committee, ran against Lunde in the 2018 election. Lunde won that race with 52% of the vote. According to his campaign website, Winston has a fitness company that caters to a variety of clients, including nonprofits.

Jacobson represents the East District on the City Council. She was reelected to her second term in the 2020 general election. In the Sun Post voter guide from that election, she described herself as a mother of two and a stepmother of five with a degree from the University of St. Thomas.

Osemenam, who ran an unsuccessful bid for council in 2020, is a civil engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. He lives in the city’s East District.

Kurdyumova has run for council and mayor in multiple elections. According to her 2020 Sun Post voter guide, she owns International Interpreting, Translation & PR Services, LLC, Runglobalmedia.com, and is a freelance writer and photo journalist.

Mata, a business owner, has served two nonconsecutive terms on the City Council, with his most recent term ending Dec. 14, 2020. His term began in 2016, and he did not run for reelection in 2020.

Mata has not shied away from controversy while serving on the council. In 2017, multiple councilmembers accused him of creating a hostile work environment for former Fire Chief Ken Prillaman.

The council approved a separation agreement with Prillaman, which provided him with $35,000 and an additional six months of salary and benefits in exchange for the release of any legal claims against the city.

Mata, a former paid-on-call firefighter, disagreed with this characterization of his actions. What some perceived as hostility was an effort to ask hard questions and make sound decisions for the taxpayers, he said.

“I’ve always felt I’ve done right for the city, even though people didn’t always like it. I didn’t join to make friends,” Mata said at his final council meeting, before he foreshadowed plans for his mayoral run. “Trust me, I’ll be here. And maybe in six months, we’ll see what else happens,” he said.

Morson is currently a Councilmember representing the Central District. He took the oath of office in January this year. In his 2020 Sun Post voter guide, he described himself as a US Navy veteran, a husband of 35 years, and a father of three with an associates degree from Boston University. He is a former member of the Brooklyn Park Human Rights Commission.

According to a 2011 Star Tribune article, Morson was voted off of the League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions in 2008 after he attempted to register himself as the league president, change its mailing address and put himself in charge of the league’s finances.

“I don’t care about that article, that’s something you care about, I don’t care about it,” he told the Sun Post. “I’m not tied up and tangled in all that mess that people stir up. That’s not who I am. People can say whatever they want to say. They can say you were outside walking with no coat on yesterday, but that’s their opinion, so what. There’s two sides to every story. I’ve never weighed in, and I don’t find it deserving of me to weigh in because that’s peoples’ opinion.”

Morson, Russell and Mata ran against Lunde in the 2011 special election for mayor following the death of former Mayor Steve Lampi. The election, which had a dozen candidates on the ballot, was followed by a City Charter amendment requiring a primary if more than two candidates file for a special election.

Timeline

Absentee voting for the primary election will begin Feb. 26. In-person absentee voting in the primary will close at 5 p.m. April 12. Primary election day will follow on April 13.

Once the field has been shrunk to two candidates, absentee voting in the special election will open June 25. Election day will be August 10.

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