The career path for Lori (Bower) Braucks was a clear one.

After she graduated from Hastings High School in 1997, she set off on a route that she figured would someday lead to her being a politician. That much has come true, but the route has looked a lot different than she figured it would.

Braucks attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to major in journalism and political science and then attended law school at William Mitchell College of Law. She graduated from there, but by the end of it, she was burned out.

Braucks took a job in the infant room at a daycare upon graduation from law school.

“I had eight little babies every day,” she said. “Everybody in my life was like, ‘What are you doing?’ I had to get to a better place. It did that for me.”

After she got to that better place, Braucks began interviewing for jobs and eventually got one with Kroll OnTrack. She handled application support, and her clients were all big law firms, so the degree came in handy. She traveled across the United States, working in several of the top 200 firms in the country.

“I ended up really, really liking it,” she said.

She’s now a project manager for the same firm and said she loves her job.

That said, it’s not the only one she has. Braucks was elected to the Hastings city council last fall and began her term on Jan. 1.

“It’s a totally different view of Hastings,” she said. “It’s a new perspective.”

Braucks realized she had a core group of friends here who she got to know over the years. Now, that group is growing and it looks a lot different. She’s interacting with a lot of the town’s small business owners and is getting a much different look at the community she calls home.

We chatted about all of this and more over lunch last week at Las Margaritas on Vermillion Street in Hastings. One of the fun things about our conversation was hearing all about the various jobs she held while growing up in Hastings. Her first job was at Terry’s Hardware in Hastings, she said. She also held jobs at the Hastings Country Club as a server and, later, at Walmart.

She even held a job at the Star Gazette during the summer of 2000 as an intern. Later, while in law school, she worked at the Sieben, Polk, LaVerdiere & Dusich law firm. She’d work there during the day as part of Rick LaVerdiere’s legal support team and go to school at night.

“I worked with really great women there,” she said. “The people were awesome.”

Family life

Braucks is married to Tommie Braucks, a 1999 graduate of Hastings High School. They have two foster children and live near St. Philip’s Lutheran Church. The two met when Tommie was a youth pastor at Calvary Christian Church.

The Braucks family has for years been involved in Black Dirt Theater, with both serving on the board here and there and Tommie being a regular in a lot of their productions.

Lori Braucks still gets together with her Black Dirt Theater friends on Tuesday nights for trivia at Wyatt’s.


Braucks ordered the taco salad at Las Margaritas and said it was “delicious.”

I got my favorite, the burrito ranchero, which is stuffed with steak, chorizo, shrimp, rice and beans, then topped with white cheese dip and green sauce.

The restaurant’s daily lunch specials are always a good bet.

Their fajitas are on special on Mondays for $8.49. The Tuesday special is a $7.49 chimichanga. On Wednesdays, the Cancun burrito is $6.99 and the taco salad is the Thursday special for $6.75. The Speedy Gonzalez is the special on Fridays for $5.50.

Want to be part of this series?

Star Gazette editor Chad Richardson is inviting residents to call him up so he can take them out to lunch and write about both the restaurant and the person he had lunch with. Call him at 651-319-4500 or write him at if you are interested.