It's been a little more than a month that Jake Foster joined the city of Chanhassen as its assistant city manager. Foster was most recently assistant city administrator for the city of Lake Elmo. Foster's first day on the job in Chanhassen was July 31.
Foster is a Hastings, Minnesota native, and is a graduate of Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. His career has taken him back to Hastings, to Fridley, and then Lake Elmo. He and his wife, Nichole, a school psychologist, live in Eagan and have an 11-month-old son, Dawson.
"Fatherhood is something you can't appreciate until it happens to you," Foster said, adding that, as Dawson is the first grandchild on both sides of the family, he doesn't lack for attention.
Foster's interest in national politics and government began in high school, and at Collegeville his studies showed him how local government provided direct service and had a direct impact on citizens, while avoiding partisan politics.
He majored in political science, with an emphasis in public administration, along with urban planning classes. Foster graduated from Saint John's in 2009, "when the economy was at rock bottom," he recalled. He found a job in the private sector. But once the economy turned around, he realized he'd rather work in local government, and found a position at the city of Fridley as an intern, and then as a management analyst.
Was he aware of Chanhassen before?
"It's hard not to be aware of Chanhassen," Foster said, "with Paisley Park, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, the Arboretum. It’s a really great community headed in a great direction."
Q: What do you enjoy about your work in local government?
A: Teaching people how local government operates. Explaining processes to residents; why processes are done a certain way. There's less of a spotlight in local and national news, and more of an opportunity to teach and educate.
Q: You mention teaching. Do you take after anyone in your family?
A: I have quite a few teachers in the family. My grandpa taught social studies and was a librarian. My grandmother was an English teacher.
Q: How does Lake Elmo differ from Chanhassen? Or are they similar?
A: Lake Elmo has challenges with same issue Chanhassen does when it comes to lakes and wake ordinances. Lake Elmo just passed an ordinance before I left, in which the city can issue no wake emergencies ... it can be pretty challenging issue. In dealing with the public, listening is the best thing you can do. No one wants to be angry for their own sake. They have an issue. We work to point them to the right resources. Often when they’re angry, it's because it comes from a place of concern and it's genuine. One of the more rewarding aspects is people can reach out to me by dropping by my office door, by phone or email. I'm happy to interact with residents in any way.
— Unsie Zuege