The Hennepin County Government Center (
by Steve Timmer
Apr 16, 2024, 5:00 PM

Support Jen Westmoreland for Hennepin County Commissioner

I have looked over the field of candidates and watched the League of Women Voters candidate forum, and I believe Jen Westmoreland is the best one to fill the vacant District 6 board seat on the Hennepin County Board. A vacancy was created when Commissioner Chris LaTondresse resigned to take the position as the head of a housing nonprofit. There is a nonpartisan special primary on April 30th (early voting began April 12th) to select two candidates to run for the seat in a special election to be held on May 14th (early voting begins May 6th). The election is only to fill the seat until the general election this November, but whoever wins the special election will obviously have a leg up in the fall.

The Hennepin County Commissioners are the most important elected officials that most people know little or nothing about. The Board of Commissioners oversees an annual budget of about $2.7 billion. It’s the largest unit of government in Minnesota, save for the state government itself.

The Board is responsible for approving the budget and funding the Hennepin County Medical Center, the largest adult and pediatric Level One trauma center and safety net hospital in the state. If you hear a helicopter overhead in the middle of the night, chances are it is headed for HCMC, maybe from Bemidji, or St. Cloud, or Worthington. Currently, the Board approves appointees to the board of Hennepin Healthcare System, the organization that runs HCMC. There is a movement by nurses and other employees at HCMC for the Board to assert more direct control of the hospital, as it did until about ten years ago.

The Board is also responsible for funding the Adult and Juvenile Detention Centers – the jails – and the Sheriff’s office, as well as the Hennepin County Attorney’s office, which prosecutes felonies in the county. It is the agent for the state in administering the state’s welfare programs. It builds and maintains an extensive system of county roads. The county is responsible for solid waste management. It runs the county’s extensive library system. That’s a partial list.

Hennepin County has probably as much – maybe more – to do with the district residents’ day-to-day welfare as any other unit of government. Hennepin County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country; it provides an out-sized share of income and sales tax revenue to the state’s general fund; the county’s health is important to the health of the entire state: for health care, for local government aid to Greater Minnesota cities, education, roads, everything.

The job of commissioner requires a serious person. Jen Westmoreland is a serious person. She has been twice elected to the Hopkins school board and knows local taxation, governance, and budgeting. Jen serves on the county’s Heading Home Hennepin Executive Committee that works on affordable housing & shelter system coordination. She’s a newly-minted Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, specializing in community and data-driven system change. If you have a conversation with Jen about county issues, which I encourage you to do, you will find that she speaks easily and knowledgeably about them.

Jen Westmoreland would make a visionary and practical commissioner; I endorse her candidacy and urge you all to support her.

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