A longtime Crow Wing County resident announced she will run as a write-in candidate against Commissioner Paul Koering in District 1.

In a news release Thursday, Sept. 3, Arlene Jones said she saw a critical need for effective leadership and collaboration, prompting her to pursue the write-in campaign.

“Like everything I’ve ever been involved in or championed, when I see a need or opportunity, I’m all in and will do what it takes to get the job done in service to my neighbors and community,” Jones stated in the release.

Jones said she’s confident her skills and experience will prove valuable to being a strong candidate for county commissioner. “In farming you develop the vital ability to solve problems resourcefully, creatively, and often with the advice of others. I intend to do the same if I’m elected as a Crow Wing County Commissioner — leaning on innovation, resourcefulness, and thoughtful consultation with those impacted by decisions made,” Jones stated.

District 1 covers the southern portion of Crow Wing County, from Fort Ripley east to Roosevelt Township and north to Oak Lawn Township. The extreme northeast portion of the city of Brainerd also falls within District 1. Koering has represented the district for eight years and until Jones’ announcement, he was running unopposed for reelection this year.

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A resident of Crow Wing County for 35 years, Jones stated her roots run deep in central Minnesota. Raising her and husband Bob’s six children in the Pequot Lakes and Brainerd school districts, Arlene has lived in Pequot Lakes, Nisswa, and most recently in rural Brainerd on her 80-acre farmstead.

After 23 years working for the state of Minnesota, her last appointment as a management analyst, Jones and husband Bob purchased what became The Farm on St. Mathias in 2006 as a way to be more deeply involved in community development by way of agriculture, the release stated. Describing herself as a strong proponent of the economic and health impacts of investing in the development of a local foods value chain, Jones spearheaded an initiative to create marketing and distribution channels for local farmers to market and sell their produce.

“Her diligent efforts have been a lifeline for many small family farms, creating critical capacities for growers and consumers alike that have resulted in food grown by over 130 regional farmers on our community’s dinner plates,” the release stated.

In 2013, Jones was awarded a Bush Fellowship to advance the development of the local foods systems underway in central Minnesota. From that intensive experience, Jones co-founded Sprout MN, the region’s first food hub. Sprout’s stated mission is to connect and strengthen the local food system as a regional asset to grow and contribute to the collective story of a vibrant and resilient central Minnesota. The organization’s stance is food, art and culture are core and integrated in the promotion of health, sustainability and vitality. Sprout works to connect these elements to increase healthy food access, encourage entrepreneurship and cultivate creativity, according to the release. Sprout employs six staff members, five of whom are residents of Crow Wing County, who have all worked to advance Sprout’s important mission.

In her announcement, Jones attributes these accomplishments to the support and trust of partners across all sectors, stakeholders, funders, mentors, farmers, friends and her family as well as her ability to effectively collaborate, ensure everyone has a place at the table, thoughtful listening and dialogue, and her innate ability to excite and motivate others to work together to accomplish shared goals.

As the mother and mother-in-law of decorated veterans and current active duty military, Jones said she is a strong supporter of the U.S. armed forces. When she’s not plowing and prepping fields, planting and digging in the dirt, or working as a champion of small farms and local foods, she’s spending time with her six grandchildren, fishing, canning and preserving food, and reading.