2022 Dakota County Commissioner election featuring Joe Atkins and Jimmy Francis

2022 Dakota County Commissioner Election: Parks

Thanks to Clothesline Laundromat and Jameson’s Irish Bar for their support.

In Dakota County, the District 2 county commissioner—representing West St. Paul, South St. Paul, and parts of Inver Grove Heights—is on the ballot this year. We’ve asked the candidates a series of questions to see where they stand on the issues. We’ll share one question and the responses at a time leading up to the general election on November 8. See our 2022 voter’s guide for more.

Previously we asked about public safetyfinancesroadslibraries, and elections. This time we’re asking about parks.

We’ve seen significant investment in parks and trails in Dakota County in recent years. Do you support continued investment and what kind of improvements and changes will you support going forward?

Here are the candidates’ responses:

Joe Atkins

(campaign site)

Dakota County has made dramatic improvements to Thompson County Park as well as to the County’s River to River Greenway in West St. Paul during my time on the County Board, with support from significant external grants. More improvements are coming, and the good news is that we have secured additional grants to fund many of these improvements as well. The improvements include:

  • Additional playground enhancements at Thompson County Park to help make it more inclusive;
  • Program partnerships with entities like the YMCA Adventure Lab for winter events;
  • Continued natural resources restoration work to reduce invasive species;
  • Wayfinding and improved signage along the River to River Greenway, including a potential public art opportunity in the Robert Street Tunnel (after completion of the current Charlton tunnel project taking place this fall); and,
  • Thompson Oaks water quality improvement and trail connection near the Wentworth Library.

Jimmy Francis

(campaign site)

Continued investment in parks and trails will be an ongoing obligation Dakota County is committed to and so, I will support this policy. I will also advocate for other departments to have priority of funding where possible. I believe the citizens of Dakota County appreciate the parks and they are what draws many to live and visit here. District two has also told me they want to see more technology included in parks and trails. Motion lights, panic stations, and cell phone/bike charging stations help keep the parks safe and convenient. I will also propose we add something similar to what we did in South St. Paul where one day a year any citizen can sign up and camp in a county park. “Camping in the Parks” will provide any resident the opportunity to experience camping in every city in Dakota County while encouraging exploration of the outdoors right in our community.  We are lucky to have ample green space and I would support the commitment already made with our parks system.

Vote on November 8

The general election is on Tuesday, November 8. Learn more about where and how to vote. You can also vote early with an absentee ballot, either by mail or by stopping at the Dakota County offices.

See our 2022 voter’s guide for more on the candidates and other races.

Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to our questions.

This local election coverage only happens thanks to the support of our members. Consider joining West St. Paul Reader to ensure local election coverage continues. Membership starts at just $3 per month.

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