An Instant Connection

Winner, S.D. native Cohl Turnquist was hired by the Flandreau City Council to become the new city administrator following the retirement of Jeff Pederson

Carleen Wild
Moody County Enterprise

Cohl Turnquist has been selected to be the next City Administrator for the City of Flandreau starting last week in his interim role as Assistant City Administrator. He will remain in that role over the next six months while he both works under the current Administrator, Jeff Pederson to learn more about the community and while he finishes his Masters Degree in Public Administration at the University of South Dakota. His undergraduate degree is in Political Science.                                                                                                     
“He is dedicated to local government administration and will be an excellent fit for our community,” said Pederson, adding that he feels the city hiring Turnquist was a very smart move and a somewhat fortuitous opportunity for the city.  
The Winner native is excited to make his new home in Flandreau. The Moody County Enterprise asked Turnquist why he’s entering the field of public administration. Below are excerpts of our conversation with him.


MCE: What had you go into the field of Public Administration?
CT: I believe that it gives me the best ability to make positive changes in my community. I have always had an interest in local government and the strategies that administrators, the council, and staff can use to address challenges and seek out opportunities to improve the lives of those in their communities. I hold the belief that some of the most interesting challenges and the most innovative and influential solutions can be found at the local level. There are few professions where you can take a walk around the block and see your hard work come to life. However, I believe that being a City Administrator is an exception to the rule and gives me the motivation to serve as an effective and enthusiastic administrator.

 
MCE: Why did you feel Flandreau might be a good fit to kick off your career?
CT: Because of the great amount of opportunity, the ability to work with an experienced administrator, and the instant connection that I felt with community members upon my arrival. In the short amount of time that I have been in Flandreau, I have experienced the excitement that community partners have to inspire growth and continue to make positive changes in Flandreau. That progressive enthusiasm to move Flandreau forward and tackle key issues was exactly what I was looking for in a city to start my career.


MCE: What is it about SD that maybe has you wanting to stay here vs go elsewhere in the region or nation?
CT: I truly believe that everyday South Dakotans represent the best that our country has to offer. The South Dakotans that I have gotten to know over the years are amongst the most kind, helpful, and friendly people you will find anywhere. The sense of community that you feel in a South Dakota city or town, in my experience, is not something I have found elsewhere. There is no better place to start a career, choose a home, or raise a family than South Dakota and that is what has motivated me to remain in our great state.


MCE: What might some of your first goals be for town - short and long-term?
CT: One of the most important first short-term goals that I have for Flandreau is to ensure that I get well connected with those in the community. Having an open dialogue with community members is the first step into seeking out the challenges we as a community face and puts us on a course to seek out solutions. By creating relationships with community members and partners, I will be better equipped to serve the city in a manner that emphasizes the values of efficiency, effectiveness, equity, and responsiveness.
One of my long-term goals is to ensure that Flandreau continues to possess the high quality of life that its residents value. Some of the areas that I have found to be of interest in this pursuit are ensuring that the community has quality housing options, abundant recreational opportunities, a beautified and thriving downtown area, updated and safe community facilities, amongst other opportunities for growth.


MCE: What do you feel some challenges may be and thoughts on those?
CT: A formidable challenge to consider when making progress towards these goals is ensuring that the City is meeting budgetary demands, while continuing to seek out projects that move the community forward. While each of the separate goals varies in its scope and intent, it is important to ensure that they are pursued in a manner that is fiscally responsible. This is especially true in our current era, where COViD-19 lurks as a threat to potential revenues. Therefore, it will be essential to find ways to continue to move forward with community projects, while using innovative methods to responsibly fund the endeavors.


MCE: Anything personal you’d want people to know about you?
CT: I am an outgoing personality and would love to connect with more members of the Flandreau community. It is one of my passions to meet individuals that come from all backgrounds and to listen to the stories that they are willing to share with me. Sadly, I am an avid Minnesota Vikings fan and can often be found in front of the TV cheering them on. I enjoy spending my free time doing anything with my fiancé, golfing, playing with my Golden Retriever Jack and cat Norman, barbecuing and smoking meat, and watching sports with my friends.
MCE: Anything else you’d want to say?
CT: I would like to thank the City Council, City Staff, and the community of Flandreau for giving me the opportunity to serve as your next City Administrator. I am looking forward to working with all of you to continue moving Flandreau in a positive direction.

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