Commissioner Mike Slavik, who represents District 1 of Dakota County, was selected to serve as the chair of the Dakota County Board of Commissioners, replacing Commissioner Nancy Schouweiler who retired after 18 years.

Replacing Schouweiler to represent District 4 on the board is newly elected Commissioner Joe Atkins of Inver Grove Heights. Atkins comes to the board after serving in the Minnesota House of Representatives for 14 years representing District 52B.

District 1 includes the city of Farmington, along with most cities and townships in the southeastern portion of Dakota County. District 4 includes portions of Rosemount, Eagan and Inver Grove Heights.

During the inaugural 2017 meeting, Chairman Slavik highlighted several 2017 Board priorities, including:

• Enhancing the resident customer experience by expanding online payment options for residents applying for permits and licenses, and paying for other services.

• Working closely with Dakota County's stakeholders and state and federal policymakers to advance the goal of transportation funding equity and effectiveness.

• Implementing recommendations from the County's 2016 East-West Transit Study to improve transit options on East-West corridors in Dakota County.

• Completing preparation of the Natural Resources Management Plan that will continue to set the direction of caring for natural resources, including removal of invasive species in Dakota County parks and expanding residential and business recycling efforts.

• Working to lower long-term incarceration rates by improving coordination of services for inmates who have mental illness and chemical health challenges.

"All of these are very specific initiatives for 2017, but we'll also do the hundreds of daily activities that make Dakota County a great place to live," Slavik said. "Examples of this important work include improving public health, supporting people with disabilities, plowing our roads, protecting children from abuse and so much more."