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Brainerd City Council candidate quits over online bullying

"I never expected anything like this from the people in our city."

A candidate for the Brainerd City Council has pulled out of the race amidst what he calls "extreme defamation" and "bullying" online.

Chris Mathison announced his decision in a Facebook post on Friday:

Mathison, 32, was running for the council's at-large seat (which means he would have represented the community as a whole and not a single district) against incumbent Sue Hilgart.

As the Brainerd Dispatch noted after Mathison announced his candidacy in June, the "the recent closure of his former employee at Papa John's Pizza," and his past struggles with depression and anxiety, were "factors prompting him to pursue a seat in which he could speak for underrepresented groups."

It seems to have been the latter impetus – Mathison's having overcome mental health challenges – that the online bullies targeted.

"These people attacked me for my mental disorders," he told one of the commenters in his Facebook post Friday. 

He also said they "dug into my social security/disability info, started making things up about me," and sent him messages "threatening to 'beat my ass.'" 

While a number of commenters urged him not to drop out of the race, Mathison's decision seems to have been made.

"Hard to sit on the City Council of a city that's just tore you apart," he said in one comment. 

"I expected some kind of questioning of my past, my disorder, etc, absolutely," he added, "But a public shaming ?? (sic)"

He also apologized for "not following through" on his promises to run.

Nonetheless, Mathison's name will still be on the ballot, as early voting has already started, the Pioneer Press reports. 

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