Mar 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm
SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. (KNSI) - In spite of much public outcry to the contrary, as well as measured criticism from a former mayor and a current council member, Brad Gunderson remains the mayor of Sauk Rapids.
During their regular Monday night meeting, the city council presented a collectively written "Resolution of Disapproval" in response to Gunderson's February 17th crash while under the influence of alcohol.
In their resolution, the council condemned the mayor's behavior, calling it "unbecoming" of an elected official, and stressed the need for the mayor to hold himself "to a higher standard."
The council, while able to draft such a resolution, can't mandate the mayor's resignation. They did not recommend any further course of action.
The meeting was then opened to the public, during which council member Steve Heinen served as acting mayor while 10 members of the Sauk Rapids community shared a collective opinion that the mayor should resign his position.
Sauk Rapids resident Art Buhs, a business owner of 25 years in the community, accused Gunderson of giving Sauk Rapids a "black eye" and a negative reputation throughout the area.
Harry Hall, a licensed truck driver of 40 years, reprimanded the mayor for driving as part of his day job as a Dial-A-Ride driver for Metro Bus the day after the incident.
Hall also declared his intention to start a community petition calling for the mayor's resignation if Gunderson does not choose to do so on his own.
Former Mayor Mark Campbell chose a different approach, backing away from calling for the mayor's resignation and instead praising city workers and the police department for doing "some of the finest work in the area" by calling in the State Patrol to avoid a potential conflict of interest.
"The police did the right thing in this situation. It's a strong community," Campbell says. "All of these people have worked hard to make it what it is."
Following the public portion of the meeting, council member Kurt Hunstiger reiterated Campbell's sentiments and asked that anyone with questions about how Gunderson's arrest was handled to call the State Patrol.
Hunstiger also expressed dismay with how the mayor's crash has impacted the community's perception of the other city council members, and generated negative phone calls and emails from Sauk Rapids residents.
"We are not the ones on trial here," Hunstiger says. "No offense Brad, but we didn't get the DUI."
Hunstiger acknowledged that Gunderson hasn't been convicted yet, but spoke to the outcry from citizens asking the mayor to tender his resignation.
"We, as elected officials, hold ourselves to a higher standard. With all due respect, I think you need to reconsider your commitment to serving as mayor, out of respect for the citizens that elected you."
Mayor Gunderson and Councilman Hunstiger were not available to KNSI for comment following the meeting.
Last week, Minnesota State Patrol reported mayor Brad Gunderson's blood alcohol level was 0.26 when he was arrested in February after he smashed into two trash cans and a crosswalk sign in Sauk Rapids on February 17th.
Gunderson has since been suspended from his job as a Dial-A-Ride driver for Metro Bus.
He also has two prior drunken driving convictions on his record dating back to the 1980's. His case has been turned over to Benton County by the city of Sauk Rapids for potential charges.