Central Minnesota city council candidate withdraws from race, cites online bullying
BRAINERD, Minn. — Brainerd City Council candidate Christopher Mathison announced Friday, Oct. 5, his decision to pull out of the city council race.
Mathison, who was running against council member Sue Hilgart for the city council at-large seat, cited in an email Friday morning defamation, bullying and threats made toward him as his reasons for leaving the race.
Mathison said his heart was broken from the actions, which he never expected from the people in his city, and hoped the current city council will stand against such people.
In follow-up emails, Mathison said the negative remarks and threats came from Facebook posts Friday morning. He said he blocked some of the people's accounts posting the comments but believed some of the posts had since been taken down. He did not identify who the posts came from.
Mathison said many of the comments published on Facebook referred to his mental health and belittled him and his family. It began Friday morning, when photos of Mathison's entry in the Brainerd Dispatch 2018 Voter's Guide were shared on multiple Facebook pages, according to Mathison. He said the photos were accompanied by comments critical of his use of social services for his disability, bipolar disorder.
"I attempted to answer some questions in the midst of it all, but people were making remarks about my disability being fake, that I'm just draining social security, I'm a fraud, etc. Someone said, 'Unfortunately I know his parents, too, who are just as awful,'" Mathison wrote.
He added he'd also received direct messages from people who appeared to be making physical threats toward him, stating they would see him after the candidate forum planned Friday, Oct. 12, with plans to beat him up.
Mathison said he began taking screenshots of some of the comments, but said after the first three, decided to delete them so he'd never have to see them again.
"I don't believe it's a healthy choice going forward with my campaign after all of this," Mathison wrote. "I have been open and honest about my disorders since I filed papers to run. I am proud of my disorders and my ability that I have been able to overcome them and live my life. So it's for this kind of attack on my character, along with the threatening messages, that I decided to pull out of this election."
The city of Brainerd confirmed Friday Mathison's name will still be on the ballot, as early voting started in September.