Atkins wins county commissioner seat

Joe Atkins

Longtime DFL state Rep. Joe Atkins will be filling a different seat come January. He won the nonpartisan Dakota County commissioner District 4 race with roughly 60 percent of the votes against his opponent Holly Jenkins with 40 percent.

Atkins, 50, is an attorney who has served seven terms in House District 52B, and prior to that was mayor of Inver Grove Heights.

He said he was very pleased with the election results and credits the volunteers, supporters and all the residents he had the chance to meet during his campaign.

“Literally, 14,700 doors I knocked on personally,” Atkins said, joking that he lost 14 pounds during the campaign and is calling it the “new Atkins diet.”

Atkins said he didn’t really approach this race differently than he would have if he were running for re-election to the Legislature. He said his approach has always been it doesn’t matter what issue someone wants to talk about he will find an answer.

To prepare for taking over the seat that is being vacated by county board chair Nancy Schouweiler, Atkins said he would like to sit down with each county department and do whatever sort of ride-along he can.

“I like to get out and see what everybody does, whether it’s … the people at the libraries or the folks at the parks, to see on the front lines what the county is doing.”

Atkins said he has gone through the county budget closely in preparation for running, but what he really likes to do is see things firsthand.

Atkins commended Jenkins and her family and volunteers. “We ran a 100 percent positive campaign, and we’re both very proud of that,” Atkins said.

Incumbent Thomas Egan of Eagan held onto the county commissioner District 3 seat with roughly 70 percent of the vote against challenger Janine Hudson, who received roughly 29 percent.

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or

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