Jenna Kahly

For Clay County Commissioner

Local Issues

If elected, what will your top three priorities be and why?
As your current commissioner, my priorities will continue to include responding to the increased need and demand for high levels of mental healthcare. I am working with state and local partners to increase crisis options, reduce stigma, and advocate for policy changes to improve outcomes. Another priority is responding to the childcare crisis and workforce issues. I will continue to work with policy makers for legislative change while keeping the safety and development needs of our children foremost. I regularly meet with local partners seeking to expand childcare capacity and support increased wages for early education professionals and access to benefits. I will continue to elevate minority voices and promote diversity and inclusion.

What actions would you take, if any, to address affordability of housing in your county?
I support the development of housing projects for low to moderate income households, specifically those with spaces reserved for folks experiencing homelessness or who have disabilities, affordable housing for seniors, and expanded opportunities to get people out of homelessness or precariously housed situations. I also support residential opportunities for families who want to live rural, but don’t want to farm, while being thoughtful about maintaining the rural character of these areas.

How would you ensure election laws do not create barriers to Minnesotans’ freedom to vote while also ensuring safe and secure elections?
I am a strong communicator and while our Auditor’s office and election judges do a fantastic job, it’s still my duty to communicate to see that statute is followed, that ballot boards are balanced, that public information about the election process is easily found and accessible, and that we are being transparent while maintaining the high levels of security called for in the law. I also regularly share links to election information from the county to make it easier for more residents to find.

What do you see as the biggest challenges to mental health and social services in your county, and how would you address them?
Clay County does not have the facilities to meet our crisis and residential treatment needs. We regularly send people to other counties exacerbating a painful situation by separating them from their loved ones. This is costly and a burden on taxpayers. Our county has growing chemical dependency rates co-occurring with other mental health concerns. I will continue fighting to increase bed space for mental health needs and support the Substance Abuse Crisis Center to replace our inadequate detox.

If there were to be budget cuts during your term, what are the most essential county services that you would advocate to preserve?
The guiding principle of my decision-making is protecting the health, safety and well-being of our residents and our environment. So many of our services and departments cover these areas and I am very careful to consider all of the implications of budget-cuts from a variety of perspectives before moving ahead.

A photo of Jenna smiling.

What I've Been Doing

During my first two years as Commissioner I have been a fierce advocate for the needs of our county, particularly in the areas of health and human services. Mental health, childcare, substance abuse prevention and response, and the continuum of care infrastructure are all areas where I am actively working with state and local coalitions. Together, we are seeking better outcomes for our families and changes in the legislature to improve and sustain services. I have been a strong supporter of the development of a Substance Abuse Crisis Center to replace our current medical detox facility which is inadequate to meet our needs. I am committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion work to ensure that all residents -- no matter age, ability, gender, or race -- can access the information and resources needed to thrive in our county. Our environment and natural resources are a high priority for me, and I have used my voice and my vote to protect our water and increase native plantings in our county. I serve on the boards of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, West Central Initiative Economic Development (vice chair), and Moorhead City Planning Commission I have promoted the growth and development of new business, workforce housing, and lobbied for our regional business needs with the state.


  • Association of MN Counties Health & Human Services Policy Committee
  • Adult Mental Health Local Advisory Council
  • Buffalo Red River Watershed District (Alternate)
  • Cass-Clay Food Commission
  • Census Committee
  • Children’s Mental Health Local Advisory Council
  • Clay County Collaborative
  • Clay County Substance Abuse Committee
  • Clay Soil and Water Conservation District (Alternate)
  • Clay-Wilkin Homeless Prevention and Assistance
  • Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging (Alternate)
  • Early Childhood Initiative
  • Extension Committee
  • FM Diversion Finance (Alternate)
  • Greater FM Economic Development Corp Board
  • Health Insurance Committee
  • Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County
  • Interview Process for Cultural Diversity
  • Intergovernmental Committee (County, Cities, Townships)
  • Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership (CAPLP)
  • Law Library
  • Local Emergency Planning Advisory Committee
  • MetroCOG Policy Board (Alternate)
  • Moorhead Business Association (Alternate)
  • Moorhead City Planning Commission
  • NW Emergency Communications Board (Alternate)
  • Planning Commission – County (Alternate)
  • Restorative Justice Committee (Alternate)
  • Rural Cities and County
  • Township Officers
  • West Central Area Agency on Aging (Alternate)
  • West Central Initiative Economic Development (vice chair)
  • Wild Rice Watershed District (liaison)
A photo of Jenna smiling.