COOK COUNTY CONNECTIONS County Board Fresh Start and a New Commissioner
By: Molly Hicken, County Attorney
COOK COUNTRY, MINNESOTA January 21, 2023 (LSNews) At the Cook County Board of Commissioners annual organizational meeting January 3, 2023, Debra White was sworn in as the newest member of the County Board. Commissioner White is a resident of Hovland and has been a resident of District 1 for decades. Her work history makes it clear that she has had a focus on public service, especially in education and youth development, for just as long as she has lived in the county
Her interest in education is reflected in her priorities as a county commissioner, which include educating the public as to how and why the county spends tax dollars. She plans to work to improve the County's engagement of the public so that commissioners receive more public input prior to making decisions. When she votes yes to spend tax dollars, she wants Cook County residents to be able to know why she made that decision over other alternatives.
Deb believes it is not just the responsibility of county government to put information out for the public, however, it is also the responsibility of Cook County residents to seek out news on current county issues and carefully consider it. She will prioritize communication to the public in whatever format that is most effective, knowing that not everyone reads the paper or is on social media.
After discussing the value of institutional knowledge and the personal skill required to efficiently and fairly run a public meeting, the newly sworn group of county commissioners also voted to fill Board leaderships positions. The Board unanimously re-elected Commissioner Ann Sullivan (District 4) as Chair of the Board and David Mills (District 3) as Vice-Chair.
Chair Sullivan shared her goals for the year in contribution to this article:
“I have many aspirations for the coming year, but my primary goal is to improve the lives of those living in Cook County. By focusing on “shovels in the ground” for affordable workforce and senior housing, offering high quality services provided to youth and families, facilitating new in-home daycares, improving safety through road improvements and maintenance, and providing 911 and first response services, we are making Cook County a better place for all. These actions are more immediate in nature but improving the lives of our residents also means thinking ahead to the future. Redistributing commissioner assignments at our organizational meeting gives me the opportunity to keep my eyes more on the future. From the development of our capital improvement plan this winter, to updating our financial management plan, I want to work to develop systems to make our organization more resilient and forward thinking. Whether COVID, a recession, employee turnover, or a natural disaster, we need to be planning for the future so we can withstand these events. With intention, I will be spending time to review and reflect on policies and ordinances with an eye on our future. What should a zoning ordinance look like given projected population growth 20 years from now? How can our policies be written to reflect how we value equity? How do we make our buildings more sustainable, in order to use taxpayer funds wisely? How can we attract specific workers through a change in our remote work policy? Where should we be setting aside county-owned land today for the purpose of building another fire department a decade from now? How should we be planning for the impact of climate change? Working to make Cook County a better place for all, both today and in the future, is my main goal. By creating a vision, communicating well, being transparent, and educating our community, that goal can be met through our collaborative efforts.”
Vice Chair Mills outlined his 2023 objectives as follows:
“I am very much looking forward to our organization’s continued planning and development. We are developing our strategic plan, capital improvement plan, and financial management plan. Our Labor-Management Committee has been helpful in addressing employee concerns, and I look forward to continual improvements in communication, efficiency, and service. Our team is exceptional and supporting them in their efforts to better serve the community is paramount. I cannot thank our staff enough for the work they do for the community. Thank you!”
By: Molly Hicken, County Attorney
County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service
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About Cook County Minnesota
Cook County is at the tip of Minnesota's Arrowhead region in the remote northeastern part of the state, stretching from the shores of Lake Superior to the US-Canada border. By land it borders Ontario, Canada to the north, and Lake County, MN to the west. The highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain is 2,301 feet and the highest lake, Total Area equals 3,339.72 sq miles
Cook County is home to three national protected areas:
Grand Portage National Monument
Superior National Forest
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Cook County include:
Grand Marais Lutsen Mountains
Gunflint Trail Superior Hiking Trail
Snow Depth Minnesota
The views expressed in this opinion article or photos are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Lake Superior News / Lake Superior Media.