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Christopherson accepts job as new Jackson city administrator

Kari Lucin/Daily Globe Patrick Christopherson, Jackson's new city administrator, stands Wednesday in the council chambers of City Hall.

JACKSON -- After 19 days as Mahnomen's city administrator, Patrick Christopherson submitted his resignation and contacted the mayor of Mahnomen in order to accept a job as Jackson's city administrator.

"Timing is everything in life. Had the Jackson job opened before (the Mahnomen job) I would never even have applied for Mahnomen," Christopherson said. "I feel bad that I had such a short time in Mahnomen. They invested that time in me, but (the Jackson position) was out there and I had to take it, because it's a better end for us (he and girlfriend Kristen Haley.) It's what we've been looking for for a couple of years, actually."

Christopherson graduated from Edina High School and received an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He received his master's degree in political science, with a diplomacy concentration, from Norwich University, Vermont, in 2007.

He worked with the city of Wanamingo from December 2008 until Jan. 7, 2010, and started in Mahnomen Jan. 11.

"I accepted a job in Mahnomen and this one (in Jackson) opened up. And I wanted to go here, because this is where we wanted to be," Christopherson said. "There was no real reason on the Mahnomen end."

Christopherson and his girlfriend reside in Mankato, where she is finishing a degree in athletic training.

"We have been looking for a position with city administration down in this part of the state for some time, because of the proximity to my girlfriend's family, in Sioux Falls and Rapid City," Christopherson said. "Plus, we like it down here, we've driven through... and it's a lot warmer down here. We're looking forward to real summers again. We haven't had those in a while."

Christopherson is searching for a house in Jackson, and until he finds one, he will commute each day from Mankato. He and Haley like the idea of moving to the southwest corner of Minnesota because of its more temperate climate and appreciated Jackson in particular because of its many recreation opportunities and healthy lifestyle options. Christopherson appreciates Jackson's proximity to hockey games, its golf course and many bikeable miles.

"Plus, I really, really do like the folks that are working here. It seems to me to be a happy city, for the most part. Every person that I've met here has been really nice," Christopherson said.

He began orientation and training with Jackson's retiring city administrator, Dean Albrecht, on Monday.

So far, he's learned the priorities and requirements of the job are extensive, and aimed at maintaining and improving the lifestyle of Jackson residents. From Albrecht, Christopherson has learned about personnel, Jackson's ongoing projects and his monthly responsibilities.

"Most of my time, the first six months I'm here, is going to be familiarizing myself with day-to-day operations and getting to know staff," Christopherson said. "We're not going to try to reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination. Dean's done a nice job of interacting with the council for many years... there's no reason to rock the boat."

Christopherson said he does not intend to leave Jackson any time soon.

"We're going to be here a long time," he said. "You wait and work to get someplace so hard, you just want to settle and get started. That's what we're both looking forward to."