Times 2020 Election Candidate Profile: Jerry Jacobson, Polk County District 1
Tell us about yourself, your family, education, career and political experience.
Except for three years in Seattle, Washington, I have been a resident of Polk County. I was born and raised on a farm near Maple Lake. I have been a resident of Fertile since 1975. I have been married to my high school sweetheart, Lynn Jacobson, for fifty-seven years. Lynn was a teacher in the Fertile-Beltrami school for 30 years.
We have 4 children: sons, Geoffrey (Tammy) in Thief River Falls and Steven (Dawn) Erskine; daughters, Amy (Matt Bounds), Jordan, MN and Elizabeth, Moorhead; and three grandchildren.
I graduated from high school in Fertile in 1960, and after attending Bemidji State University, and working in an office equipment sales career, founded the Valley Shopper publication in 1969. After selling the Valley Shopper in 1969, I started the North Star Shopper and Printing Plus firm (sold to my son). I was the publisher of the Hartz grocery circular for 26 years, and presently own Printing Point.
I am an active member of Little Norway Lutheran Church near Fertile, having served as president, trustee and deacon. My wife and I were named Red River Valley Farm Leaders for 2020.
I have served as a county commissioner for a total of 12 years, and am the current vice chair of the County Board and chair of the Polk County Social Services Board. I currently serve on several public service organization boards including Minnesota Rural Counties, NW Mental Health, NW Regional Development Commission, Land of Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging/Senior Linkage Line, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Association of MN Counties Environmental Policy Committee and am chair of the Rural Transportation Coordinating Council that is being developed to provide senior transportation to medical facilities.
What has been your proudest accomplishment serving as the current District 1 Polk County Commissioner?
One of the top priorities of being a commissioner is to be a team player, so all accomplishments are due to working together as a team. The last four years have been a little quieter than some others. We did a major remodel on the Human Services building in East Grand Forks, and this summer we completed the Maple Lake East Bay beach and recreation park.
Major past project we are proud of that are reaping benefits today are in the sale of 24,000 private acres to the Nature Conservancy on the glacial ridge. We were able to preserve all the tax revenue by having them establish an endowment fund (over 2 million dollars) in which any shortfalls from pilt payments are made up from this fund. I believe this is the only one in the country set up like this. The other one that comes to mind is the Tri-County Corrections Center. Because of our long-range planning, we saw the benefit of renting out space to other counties and taking in federal prisoners. Today that revenue basically pays our $17,500,000 bond payment that will be paid off in 2025.
What upcoming county project are you looking forward to the most to see completed?
Completion of the major remodeling project of the county’s Human Service Center in East Grand Forks after extensive storm damage. We are in good shape on building projects in the near future, and we continue to prioritize long range planning.
In regards to the handling of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, name one thing you agree with that Governor Walz has done for the state of Minnesota. Explain.
I agree when he has listened to all opinions and used common sense to make decisions based on the facts.
In regards to the handling of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, name one thing you disagree with that Governor Walz has done for the state of Minnesota. Explain.
I disagree when he and our legislators sometimes lump greater MN in with the metropolitan areas and fail to realize we don’t always have the same concerns or needs.
If the state were to say that it was up to each individual county to set its own COVID-19 public health safety guidelines and judging by the county’s current positive case numbers, would you like to see the mask mandate for all continue or would you want to leave it up to individuals and businesses? Explain.
We would rely heavily on our excellent Public Health Director, Sarah Reese, to keep us informed and guide us according to the CDC recommendations and her recommendations to us.
Why are you the best person to represent District 1 for Polk County?
I have 12 years of experience as a Polk County Commissioner helping to keep our county fiscally sound. I have forty plus years as a successful business owner, where I learned how to budget, and money management was the key to survival. This in turn, applies to the county level, as well.
What do you like to do for fun? Hobbies?
My wife and I love to travel, dance and camp with our grandchildren. My hobbies are woodworking and hunting.
What is your favorite place to visit in Minnesota?
I never get tired of going to the North Shore. Also, we have the Agassiz Environmental Learning Center Sand Hills are which is a treasure to explore in our very own county.
What is your favorite restaurant and where is it located?
Because I enjoy a variety of cultural foods, I would not be able to pick a favorite. We have many great restaurants in Polk County, and I like to eat at different ones at different times.