Wendell staying in Brookings, to remain on council

Courtesy photo: Nick Wendell

BROOKINGS – Brookings City Councilor Nick Wendell says he’s had a change of heart and will not leave the community or resign from the council.

Wendell had announced on July 16 that he was resigning from the Brookings City Council, effective July 30, to move to Sioux Falls. 

The council on Tuesday was to recognize Wendell and to discuss the process for filling the upcoming vacancy via an application process. 

Instead, Wendell announced his change in plans at the start of the meeting and rescinded his resignation. He’ll stay in Brookings and keep serving on the council.

“This was a really difficult decision for me and for my family, in particular, my daughter, Amelia, who many of you have kind of seen grow up through my three campaigns and through more than five years in this seat,” Wendell said during the meeting.

After the meeting, Wendell clarified that the move to Sioux Falls would have separated him from his daughter, who would have remained in Brookings.

“I think anyone who knows me knows that Amelia is kind of a center-point in my life, and while we would have navigated that transition and it wouldn’t have been unsurmountable, it just wouldn’t have been ideal,” Wendell said after the meeting.

“The idea of moving to Sioux Falls was very appealing, and it felt like an appropriate next chapter of my life. But the more I thought about leaving Brookings, and in particular (Amelia), it just became clear to me as the day drew closer that it just wasn’t the right choice for me, not at the present time. At the end of the day, I decided that I’ve got deep roots in Brookings and it was a place I wanted to stay and continue serving,” Wendell said after the meeting. 

“Brookings is a really difficult place to leave, and I’ve decided to stay. And if I’m going to continue living in Brookings, a community that I dearly love, I want to continue to be of good service,” Wendell said during his announcement.

“Countless among you have been so supportive over the past few weeks after I announced my intention to depart, and in the years before that, and so thank you for your kindness and for your generosity. To my colleagues on the council, and to the staff at the City of Brookings, thank you for your graciousness and for your support during all my time on the council and in particular in the last couple of weeks,” he added.

Wendell confirmed after the meeting that the move – and subsequent decision to remain – had nothing to do with his job. He’ll continue his work as the executive director of South Dakota Board of Technical Education, “and I’ll continue to serve proudly, as a city councilor and as your deputy mayor,” he said during the meeting.

“In a conversation this afternoon, I was reminded that sometimes it takes walking right up to the precipice of something before you can see it clearly, and I gotta tell you, I kind of wrapped my toes right over the ledge of this decision. And I know now that the right thing to do is to take a step back and to continue to live and work and serve in what I think is the best little city in America – Brookings, South Dakota. And that is just exactly what I’m gonna do,” Wendell said.

“I look forward to the good and important work that we’ll continue to do together,” he concluded.

Mayor Ope Niemeyer thanked Wendell, amending the council agenda to remove the items related to Wendell’s planned resignation.

Wendell joined the Brookings City Council in 2016 for a two-year term and was re-elected in 2018, serving a full term. He was re-elected again in 2021.

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