Each year more women take on leadership roles and create a space for women in government.
Linda Flanders has contributed to that after recently being named Goodhue County’s first woman County Board chair.
She was nominated for the leadership position and the vote was unanimous to name her chair.
“I just wanted to say, I believe Linda Flanders is the first woman chair for the Goodhue County Board of Commissioners and congratulations for that,” county Commissioner Susan Betcher said during the board’s first meeting of the year.
Flanders was elected to the County Board during the 2019 special election.
“The special election took place because Commissioner Ron Allen passed away and if the seat hadn’t become open it wouldn’t have been on my radar at all,” she said.
She took a leap of faith and decided to run for the open seat.
“The seat was open, and I did think about it. I thought, ‘I see the world changing quickly and I believe we absolutely need to see that and to start making decisions differently based on the future that we can see coming,’” she said.
She was inspired to run for office because of the fast changing world around her and she wanted to ensure decisions were being made with the future in mind.
“I saw from my experience that the world was changing so fast based on technology that we needed to think further ahead and be more adaptable and be able to change,” she said. “Maybe not stick with tradition and the idea that ‘we,ve always done it this way’ and because I saw that and the seat was available I decided I wanted to be a part of helping people make that adjustment.”
Flanders is acclimating to the new leadership position and is looking forward to her year as board chair.
“I’m only a few days into this, so I’m still learning some of my responsibilities and adjusting. Some of the things I do include conducting the meetings, signing everything for the county and I’m a point person for people when they want to reach the board,” she said.
This isn’t the first time that Flanders is breaking barriers for women in workplaces. Early in her career she was the first and only woman law enforcement officer at a department in a small town in California.
“All I can relate it to, and this is back in the 70s, is being the first and only female police officer at the time in a small department in a town north of San Francisco,” she said. “I was the first and only one there, and that was a different time, but it was quite an experience, and I think that I’m prepared for the leadership role that I’m filling now.”
She said she is ready for the challenge and looks forward to learning more about the position and listening to the community to make positive changes in the county.
When she first became a county commissioner she was intrigued by all the moving parts that go into day-to-day government duties.
“There are many moving parts, and we work on one moving part and my opinion was that many governmental agencies function in silos, you do your job and they’ll do theirs,” she said.
“I think it has become very clear to me that we function so much more as a system and at the county level something might seem like a good decision in one department, not realizing that it could really affect another department,” she said.
This year she hopes that the county will take more opportunities to educate residents on how things work.
“That is something I absolutely stand behind, I would love to see the public become more educated on how the government has to work in certain areas versus where we have the flexibility,” she said.
“Understanding more of the legalities that we deal with is something that I would like to provide information about and clearer understanding to the public,” she continued.
She looks forward to having more discussions and more collaboration with the board and with the communities that they represent.
“I’m also looking forward to continuing to build a good working relationship with Prairie Island,” she said.
Last year Flanders coordinated a Mississippi River cleanup initiative, and she plans to continue with that endeavor this year.
Flanders appreciates the perspectives each board member brings to the table, with different backgrounds and skills they have discussions to make sound decisions.
“I really like all of the people on the board, and I think that they all have their own perspective and we all come with really good skills,” she said. “In this moment in time we have really incredible skills on the board to help us get to a healthy future.”
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