Non-profit manager challenges incumbent for St. Louis County Commissioner

by Lisa Mattson

What do County Commissioners do?

Some of the commissioners' duties include:

  • Review, adjust and adopt annual county budget
  • Review and evaluate county programs
  • Determine max number of county employees, negotiate and approve their labor agreements
  • Authorize property tax levy and collection of county-wide property taxes
  • Make decisions regarding county participation in optional federal and state programs
  • Monitor overall fiscal health of the county

St. Louis County Commissioner District 1 race

Dennis Fink


"Government is complicated. More than anything else, it is learning how to work the existing system and then doing it."

  • More conservative
  • Served on the board 14 years (first elected 1996)
  • Navy veteran, graduate of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
  • Active in National Association of Counties (stresses private land ownership and opposes state/federal land management restrictions)
  • Worked as marketing and management strategic planner for Alcan Aluminum, St. Joe Minerals, Minnesota Power, and the University of Minnesota Duluth's Center for Economic Development
  • Concerned with keeping property taxes low
  • Believes in cutting spending instead of raising taxes for residents

Information and picture found on Dennis Fink's webpage

Information also taken from an interview with The Hillsider at

Frank Jewell

"Working as a non-profit manager has taught me how to pinch pennies and still get things done."

  • More liberal
  • Served on Duluth City Council from 1987 to 1991
  • Graduate of St. Scholastica
  • Executive director of Men as Peacemakers (formed in 2000 to counter domestic violence in the community)
  • Worked as violence prevention specialist for St. Louis County and has worked with adolescents, the mentally ill, and the elderly
  • Concerned with maintaining unspoiled lands and keeping public lands public
  • Believes there needs to be changes on the County Board so that county business can be done effectively
  • Wants to find creative new ways to provide services without raising taxes

This information found at

Picture and information also taken from an interview with The Hillsider at

Things to think about

The Duluth News Tribune did an article on this race, which discusses the candidates and some of their concerns in more detail at

We Are Watching is a local political watchdog group that focuses on the County Board and St. Louis County's seven commissioners. Read more about what they think at

Fox 21 has a story available on their website about Commissioner Fink's absence at the debate conducted by the League of Woman Voters and his reasons for missing it at

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