Brianna Doran runs for Brookings City Council

Gracie Terrall, Managing Editor

Brianna Doran, a South Dakota State University graduate student from the Department of Communications and Journalism (COJO), is running for a one-year term on the Brookings City Council.

Although she is young, Doran said she is prepared to serve the community and address Brookings’ needs. 

“I’ve worked with a variety of families and individuals in our community and seen their dreams and their challenges,” Doran said. “I saw the importance of partnership and the effect that policy can have. I decided to run because I understood the position, and I had that desire to do more and I had the partnership, so I feel that I can be really effective.” 

Doran mentioned two studies the city is working on that she is following closely. The economic spending study and housing study are important initiatives Doran hopes will improve the community. The foundations of her campaign, however, are tackling economic stability, affordable housing and entertainment in Brookings.

“When I was deciding to run, I heard three statements repeatedly, and it was ‘I want a safe home that I can afford, I want a good job and I want to have fun in this town,’” she said.

Doran said she hopes to expand workforce development by communicating with community partners like the Brookings Economic Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce and private businesses. Entertainment improvement would involve maintaining the parks and recreation systems and promoting more events at the Swiftel Center and Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center. 

“When someone comes into town, they can get engaged in community service; they can have fun on the weekends, they have a good job, they have a great place to live, and that’s how they’re gonna stay here long term,” she said.

Doran has worked as the director for communications and impact at Brookings United Way for four years. There, she has worked with nonprofit organizations in Brookings County.

Doran has also served as the chair for the Brookings Disability Awareness Committee, is a member of the public affairs committee with the Chamber of Commerce and is a Leadership Brookings graduate. In November 2021, Doran was the winner of the Mayor’s Generational Leadership award.

Matilyn Kerr, SDSU program adviser for university traditions, met Doran on the Hobo Day Committee when they were both students in 2016. Kerr likened Doran to popular fictional character Leslie Knope from the show “Parks and Recreation,” saying they have a similar drive and willingness to take on projects and community advocacy.

“She really puts her heart into the things she cares about,” Kerr said. “I don’t think you put your heart into non-profits without being someone that very caring and compassionate about things and wanting to make a difference.”

Doran graduated from her undergrad at SDSU in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in apparel merchandising and minors in event facilities administration, leadership and marketing. She is currently a graduate assistant in COJO and working on her master’s degree in communication. 

During her undergraduate program, Doran was involved with the Hobo Day Committee, Greek Life, University Programs Council and served on the Students’ Association. 

As a former SDSU student, Doran said she recognized the need to get more students involved with the community, and so she created a platform for students to share their voices. One of Doran’s plans if she wins is to introduce potential office hours for council members or town hall meetings where students can attend and voice any concerns or communicate with council members. 

“If we want to involve students, we have to be accessible to them,” Doran said. 

Betsey Williams, a junior theater and political science major at SDSU, likes that Doran is thinking about student involvement during her campaign.

“We are a part of the Brookings Community as SDSU students, and sometimes we can feel isolated simply because we are on campus and not necessarily out in the community as much,” Williams said. “I think it’s a wonderful idea to keep the SDSU students involved in the community, to have their voices heard about specific issues and just informing them about what the community is deciding.”

Brookings City Council and School Board elections are Tuesday, April 12. Doran is also running against fellow COJO student, Andrew Rassmussen.

“It’s very exciting to have students express an interest in politics, especially local politics, and 

to have the willingness and a desire for our students to serve their community,” COJO Director Josh Westwick said of Doran and Rassmussen. “We are thrilled for the both of them and excited that they’re exploring this possibility and we’re grateful for their willingness to serve.”