Tax dollars and funding are priorities for Dakota County Commissioner District 4 candidates

Dakota County Board of Commissioners District 4 is an open seat this election season after longtime commissioner Nancy Schouweiler announced her retirement earlier this year. 

Running for Schouweiler’s county board seat are Holly Jenkins of Eagan and Joe Atkins of Inver Grove Heights, who announced last January that he would not seek another term in the Legislature.

District 4 covers parts of Inver Grove Heights, Eagan and Rosemount.

The Review asked the two candidates what skills and experiences they think they’d bring to the county board, what they think are the top challenges facing the district, and what issue or project they’d prioritize if elected. They answered via email. 

 

Joe Atkins, 50, lives in Inver Grove Heights with his wife Julia. He is a member of the Rogosheske & Atkins Law Firm. He received his juris doctor degree from William Mitchell College of Law.

Atkins served as mayor of Inver Grove Heights for 10 years and during this time he said the city reduced property taxes to the third lowest rates in Minnesota. He has served seven terms as a DFL state representative for House District 52B.

“As a legislator, I set aside partisan bickering to pass more bipartisan laws the past eight years than any other state representative,” Atkins said.

Atkins said he has a successful record, both as a mayor and legislator of meeting challenges facing Dakota County, which he said includes holding the line on property taxes, protecting public safety, communicating well, and balancing quality development with preservation of parklands, woodlands, and wetlands.

“I look forward to continuing to do this as our area’s county commissioner,” Atkins said. 

If elected, Atkins aid he would prioritize holding the line on property taxes while delivering quality services. He said the most important current issue is opposing the Met Council’s efforts to impose its will on local decisions. 

“I have consistently and successfully stood up to the Met Council to preserve local control over local decisions. I believe the best decisions are the most local decisions,” Atkins said.

 

Holly Jenkins, 51, lives in Eagan with her husband Jeff. She is the founder/president of the nonprofit Wilderness in the City and is a part-time employee of Midwest Mountaineering. She received her master’s degree in finance from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.

Jenkins has lived in Dakota County for 18 years and said she has been actively engaged in county issues for the past four years. She described herself as “not a career politician,” and said she is determined “to bring the public’s voice back into the decision-making process.”

She said a top challenge facing the county is decisions on spending, whether this is with county, Met Council, state or federal funds. Jenkins said recent decisions have been made without public support, which she said was concerning, including exercising eminent domain for a multi-million dollar bike trail. 

Jenkins said her vision is for “wise and responsible progress in Dakota County-not overbuilt and underfunded.”

“My priority is to maintain a high quality of life for people who live here now - and in the future.” 

If elected, Jenkins said she would strive to protect residents’ tax dollars from behind the scenes decisions. She suggested the county should video record public meetings to allow people to view at their convenience, improve the website and ask for public input before decisions have been made. 

 

Election Day is Nov. 8. To find your polling place, visit http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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