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Vene tabbed as Association of Minnesota Counties second VP

The Association of Minnesota Counties' biggest job, after several missteps last spring, is to unify, says Beltrami County Commissioner Joe Vene.

"The most important priority for AMC is to unify our association as never before," says Vene, who Wednesday was elected as second vice president of the state association of counties.

"My focus will be to strengthen our county partnerships throughout the state through communication, collaboration, education, and above all, respect," Vene said. "We need to improve upon our understanding of the diverse issues facing our 87 counties."

Last spring, during the 2010 legislative session, the AMC released its plan to redesign state government, a plan that met with controversy as it had not been run through all the counties before being approved. Shortly after that, AMC Executive Director Jim Mulder stepped down, and AMC has been searching for a new administrator since.

Mulder ended up as Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner's running mate.

Vene, in his second term as Beltrami County District 3 commissioner, is also District II director for the AMC, involving six counties. He was unopposed in his bid for second vice president at the AMC annual conference in St. Cloud, the first step in a three-year progression that leads to president of AMC.

"Our unified purpose must be to work toward the development and implementation of public policy that improves the human condition," Vene said in his application. He cited the need for a unified agreement on a redesign plan, and pointed to Beltrami County's own Strategy Aligned Management plan, a results-oriented government initiative.

The biggest challenge facing Minnesota counties is "finding those practices that best serve public needs through innovation, commitment, hard work, collaboration, leadership and customer responsiveness," he said.

"Developing cohesiveness among one another, and unanimity of purpose can bring state-county solutions through work with our Legislature," Vene added. "AMC should not feel overwhelmed at the challenges facing us; rather, we should seek togetherness in the face of challenge. Delivering outcomes that produce results for the money to be spent must be the ultimate challenge we meet."

Vene said he supports the investment in technology and resources that add responsiveness, cost control and value to county government, especially in law enforcement.

"Supporting real outcomes for our counties and the state will result in quantifiable improvement in the human condition within a culture that cultivates values, empowers and rewards the individual," Vene said. "A quality of life unsurpassed anywhere is obtainable statewide through communities that promote environmental and water quality, healthy families, and expanded economic opportunity."

Vene, retired superintendent of the Northwestern Minnesota Juvenile Center, has also served on the city of Bemidji Planning Commission and as the city's parks and trails advocacy coordinator.