Jagt to take reins as new Tyler mayor

TYLER — Joan Jagt of Tyler doesn’t hesitate to become involved in local government.

Jagt will be sworn in as Tyler’s new mayor at the city council’s first 2019 meeting on Monday. She will begin her term after gaining 24 years of previous experience, first on the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton School Board and then the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners.

Her school board service dates back to RTR’s pairing agreements, as members from three school districts worked toward terms for pooling their resources.

The pairing was eventually followed by consolidation. RTR is now on the eve of a February special election to build a new K-12 school in Tyler. Currently, grades are divided among existing buildings with elementary students in Ruthton, middle school students in Russell and high school grades in Tyler.

Jagt said it was rewarding to be involved in the formation of RTR’s pairing plans, a first step toward the idea of forging permanent ties.

“It was always interesting and many times challenging,” Jagt said. “Our three districts made important decisions with the goal of helping all residents. It was a great time to serve on Tyler’s school board.”

She decided later to try another type of local government by serving on the Lincoln County Board. Jagt completed three terms from 2005 to 2017.

Her district was the largest geographically of all five in Lincoln County. It included her home township of Hope outside of Tyler, as well as Marshfield, Diamond Lake, Ash Lake, Lake Stay and Limestone and the village of Arco near the shore of Lake Stay. The northernmost township, Limestone, is located within six miles of Porter in Yellow Medicine County and the Lyon County communities of Taunton and Minneota.

“I served a large rural district,” Jagt said. “It was a good opportunity when I first campaigned to meet residents in each township and listen to their ideas. I carefully considered what they said after they elected me.”

She chose to limit her county board service to three terms because she and her husband, Jerry, moved into Tyler. That placed her in a different district served by incumbent Mic VanDeViere, who is currently Lincoln County’s board chairman.

She added that she wouldn’t have run for a fourth term even if district lines weren’t a factor. She chose to devote as much time as possible to being her husband’s caregiver before he died in February of 2017.

One of the things that have motivated her to seek local public offices was professional experience she and Jerry gained by being employed at the Tyler Golf Club.

Another factor has been that she considers it important for women to actively participate in local government. As commissioner she was the second woman to serve on the board after Mary Petersen of Lake Benton, who served from 1991 until 1999.

“For the most part it’s not that much of factor whether a board member is a woman or a man,” Jagt said. “At times it can help to have both perspectives. It’s one of the things that might lead to different ideas.”

In the past year, she decided that filing for the Tyler mayor seat would serve as the next logical step in helping her community.

Two of the objectives she hopes to accomplish with the help of council members and city staff include sewer system improvement planning and site development for the new RTR K-12 school if voters approve its construction.

“I’m back to where I have enough time (without caregiving responsibilities),” she said. “It’s another new opportunity, a new way to be involved.”

VanDeViere said having Jagt in the role of Tyler mayor should help in the goal for different local units of government to work together in ways that lead to economic progress and a good quality of life.

“I think Joan will be a great mayor,” VanDeviere said. “It’s valuable to have someone with her experience and skills involved in city government.”

Tyler City Administrator Robert Wolfington said he’s known Jagt for many years. He believes she has the right set of skills to play a leadership role for the city.

“I’m definitely looking forward to working with her,” Wolfington said. “She has plenty of experience, strong ties to the community and a good sense of where Tyler needs to go in the next few years.”