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Jolene Jansen

By Pam Reinig

Register Editor


In the weeks leading up to the June 7 primaries, the Register will publish profiles of the candidates in contested races. This week, our profiles look at two Democrats entered in the Clayton County Board of Supervisors’ race. There are six candidates for the single seat being vacated by Gary Bowden. The remaining four will be profiled in the May 25 issue.

Our article begins with biographical sketches provided by the candidates followed by a question-answer interview.

Michael Finnegan

Democrat Michael Finnegan grew up on a beef and hog farm in Millville Township, which is located in the southern end of Clayton County. The Guttenberg High School graduate is self-employed as a farmer. He and his wife, Lynne  have two daughters, Michelle (23) who works as a special education teacher for Allamakee School District and Brianna (18) who is a senior at Clayton Ridge High School.


What elected positions have you held?

The elected positions I have held include being a Millville Township Trustee, Farm Service Agency County Committee and Clayton Ridge School Board. I am also a member of the Clayton County Planning and Zoning Board and Clayton County Conference Board. 

Why did you decide to run for this position?

 My reason for running for Clayton County supervisor is that I feel there is a need for representation in the southern part of the county. If elected, there will be representation in each part of the county. 

What are the biggest challenges facing the county?  How do you plan to address these issues?

One of the biggest challenges is to maintain a budget that is both effective and is fiscally conservative. Everything we do in county government revolves around the budget. A big part of the $17,000,000 budget is up-grading and maintaining our 1100 miles of roads and 260 bridges. Production agriculture, our factories, businesses, fire and ambulance, citizen and students rely heavily on our infrastructure to deliver commodities and goods and to get to where they need to be in a safe and timely fashion. 

Another big part of our budget is insuring the safety of our residents. That is why we need to maintain a well-trained and staffed sheriffs department that has access to all the latest technology. 

We also have many other branches of county government that rely on our budget to be well maintained and staffed. 

One way we can help the budget is to promote economic development so we can bring factories and businesses into our county, which means jobs for our citizens that insures a healthy tax base. 

Another way to help the budget is to apply for grants that apply to county projects. Promoting tourism to our beautiful county is also beneficial. 

 If elected to serve, what do you hope to achieve during your term?

 One of the things I hope to achieve is updating our comprehensive plan. This plan should be reviewed every five years. The comprehensive plan presents a vision for the future with long-range goals and objectives for all activities that effect the local government. 

How will you reach out to area residents?

 I feel my experience being a township trustee and school board member has given me a broad range of experience in working with budgets and tax levis while creating a good working relationship with employees and the general public. Being a member of the Clayton County Planning and Zoning Board and County Conference Board, I have the ability to understand the issues that face the county while having a vision for the future. 

What additional comments about your candidacy or platform would you like to make? 

 A big part about being a county supervisor is being accessible. I will listen to resident concerns and opinions. 

Joleen Jansen

Democrat 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, a student at the University of Northern Iowa, and Jacob and Jenna, students at Central.

A community volunteer and entrepreneur, Jansen has owned and operated Jansen Products Web Design, Hosting, Media Transfer and Digital Marketing Company for 17 years. Here’s how she answered our questions.

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.

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.

I would like to coordinate with other county officials and residents, a community wide visioning and strategic planning process, for recreational economic development.  I would specifically support the expansion of the Turkey River Recreational Corridor trail system. I value the positive impact tourism has on our local economy and will support ways to grow the tourism industry.

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.

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, has my contact information.

What additional comments about your candidacy or platform would you like to make? I will campaign on the promise of being informed and open minded. As a new supervisor I will have a lot to learn, but I am a quick study and I will be dedicated to making informed decisions. I will talk to resident experts and use all available resources to learn about issues. My dad lived a life dedicated to “doing the right thing,” I have learned that is a fine motto in which to live.


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