Joleen Jansen, Elkader, is also a native Northeast Iowan. She graduated from Wahlert High School in Dubuque as well as Coe College, Cedar Rapids, and St. Luke’s School of Medical Technology, also in Cedar Rapids. She and her husband, Jim, have three children: Jessica, Jacob and Jenna.
A community volunteer and entrepreneur, Jansen has owned and operated Jansen Products Web Development for 19 years.
What elected positions have you held? I served three terms, from 2004-2015 on the Central Community School Board.
Why did you decide to run for this position? I am running for Clayton County Supervisor because I truly love living here, and I believe, because of my experiences, I have something worthwhile to contribute. I think it is true that in giving we receive and I have enjoyed my previous roles as a public servant.
What are the biggest challenges facing the county? How do you plan to address these issues?
I would work to maintain a fiscally sound budget, while using the county’s financial resources for the good of all who live in Clayton County.
Farm to market routes are central to Clayton County’s agricultural economy. Clayton County maintains 200 miles of paved road and 850 miles of gravel roads. In order to maintain an efficient, safe and vast secondary road system it is essential for county supervisors to prioritize funding our county road department. Clayton County budgets nearly 40% of its total budget on roads and transportation. I would not recommend significant changes to the system or the funding allocation. I am a proponent of the recent, county developed Active Transportation Plan. This plan was developed to expand tourism and recreation opportunities in the county as well promote a healthy citizenry. As a county supervisor, I would endorse the plan, and work hard to find ways for the county to partner with our towns to implement the Active Transportation Plan which “envisions a network of diverse trails for all people within 15 minutes of every community, home, school and workplace.”
Protecting and enhancing the unique natural beauty of Clayton County is a priority for most residents. I would work to discover ways which incentivize sustainable farming practices which will conserve our precious topsoil and protect our waters. I also support the Clayton Energy District’s vision to be using 100% local renewable energy by 2050.
By partnering with Clayton County communities, schools and IA Work Force Development I think the county can work to strengthen and grow the middle class by encouraging the retraining of unemployed residents, and the training of high school students and graduates to obtain certified skills.
If elected to serve, what do you hope to achieve during your term?
Clayton County has a strong need for rental property and housing developments. The county must do everything it can to promote development so that people who work in Clayton County have the best options to live in Clayton County. Because of a lack of housing, too many of our workers collect wages in Clayton County but live in neighboring counties.
As a new supervisor I will prioritize the implementation of the County’s new Comprehensive Visioning Plan. Over the past few months I have been participating in the comprehensive planning process by serving as a member of the steering committee and in focus groups.
The current plan was developed in 2002 and is outdated. This land use plan must come from the grass roots and address the many aspects of life in Clayton County, including public health and resident well being, the natural resources, our rich agricultural tradition and the county’s economic interests. This new plan will be used by county leaders as they study future development. This is so important for the people who love life in Clayton County. I believe, through effective administration of an updated comprehensive plan, Clayton County leaders can instill confidence the common interest will be served. I will be a good steward of that plan.
I also would explore ways for the Clayton County Board of Health and other county departments to provide more extensive county-wide public and mental health services and education. I also would like to learn more about Veterans Affairs; making sure we maximize our efforts to serve the county’s veterans. Finally, I have a strong concern for our less fortunate residents and I would work toward insuring the county does its best to serve all of its residents all of the time.
On regionalization of county services: As county supervisor I would search for ways to simplify and streamline communication and handling of county documents. I also have relationships with state lawmakers and employees, which I would use to facilitate communication with state offices. Regarding regionalization, Clayton County is home to over 18,000 people, and of Iowa’s 99 counties it is the 5th largest in land area. Because of the terrain of Clayton County, it can take a long while to deliver services. I doubt whether county residents would be better served by regionalizing services. I think retaining local control in the county is best for the residents of Clayton County.
What would you do to improve morale and motivate county staff? A motivated workforce with high morale is rooted in respect. My approach to most situations is to seek first to understand, and then to be understood. I am not sure low morale or under-motivation is a problem among the Clayton County staff. But if I were to learn it was a problem, I would approach the employee or group with an open and respectful mind. As the local regulatory authority, county government has every obligation to enforce ordinances which are in place to serve and protect the common good. Therefore, it is important county employees are doing all they can to fully serve the residents of Clayton County. Last year, the state legislature voted to gut Chapter 20 and therefore repealed the bargaining rights of many public sectors. I believe this was a harmful, unnecessary and unhelpful. I fought against this legislation and believe the benefits and rights afforded in Chapter 20 were very important to retaining the best and brightest public servants.
How will you reach out to area residents? As a school board member I always had an “open door policy.” If a constituent has a concern I want to hear about their concern, because everyone deserves the right to be heard. I practice the, “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood” method. I would welcome anyone to contact me with ideas and concerns by contacting the Supervisors office or me personally via my cellphone, email, text message or through social media points. My website, JoleenJansenSupervisor.com has my contact information.
How can we all get along and be productive? Compromise is essential for a productive, stable community. I tend to think the best way to resolve conflicts is with a commitment to civility. I have always had an “open door policy.” If a constituent has a concern, I want to hear about it. Not every concern can be resolved in a way to completely please the constituent, but everyone deserves the right to be heard. No group will agree to all things all of the time, but communicating in a civil manner and remaining honest can go a long way to keeping communication channels open. I am campaigning on the promise to make sure Clayton County government works for the common good of all who live here. My dad lived a life dedicated to “doing the right thing.” I have learned that is a fine motto by which to live. In order to do the right thing, it will be essential to look for compromise which best serves all our residents and the beautiful place in which we reside.