5 questions ... for Sarah Hellekson

She is the city administrator for Jamestown.

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Sarah Hellickson
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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1. What interested you in working in city government?

I’ve always been interested in government and law in general. My parents had government and teaching careers. While I focused on international law and government initially rather than municipal government, I like the direct communication with the public and elected officials at the local level.

2. What education prepared you for your job?

Like many, I started in one major in college (biology) and finished in another (political science), as I found the political science classes fun. I finished by obtaining my law degree at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. The study of law prepares one for a variety of careers, not just attorney, judge and law professor. I’ve also learned a lot in my previous jobs in public works, urban development and community development, emergency management, job service businesses service, economic development, practicing law and volunteering for non-profits. These positions and experiences gave me a well-rounded background which help me to better understand the wide range of issues that staff encounters daily at the City of Jamestown.

3. What do you find satisfying in your career and why?


I find addressing the cycles and seasons of municipal government satisfying as well as working with staff and the public. Sometimes that changes as the budget is now required to be submitted earlier. I enjoy working with other staff to find solutions to issues and putting pieces of the city puzzle together to help others see the big picture – such as how property taxes and utility bills are the only true revenue sources for the city. The people who work for the City of Jamestown are very dedicated, sharp, experienced and determined to provide the best cost-effective, safe service for the people and properties of Jamestown. Staff works diligently toward the goal of providing the best municipal services possible within the budget provided.

4. What do you like about living in Jamestown?

It took awhile for me to get used to living in Jamestown. I continually see familiar faces in the grocery stores and other locations. However, I enjoy running into people I know throughout the day. I like the lack of traffic jams, the fact that a road closure means you may have to detour one or two blocks but not 90 minutes in the wrong direction. I like that it is only a 90-minute drive to Fargo or Bismarck. It used to take me a minimum of 30 minutes to drive to work daily depending upon the detours, accidents, incidents, weather and (mostly) traffic. Jamestown has so many opportunities for entertainment, enjoyment of nature and athletics, music and food. I’ve heard from many that there should be more of this or that, but in larger cities, often it is more of the same. Here we have very unique spaces, schools, parks, lakes and rivers, events, shops and restaurants. We should make it a habit to share more with each other what we truly like about Jamestown. I like it here.

He is president and CEO of Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

5. What does a city administrator do on a typical day?

When I arrive at City Hall, I review messages and mail and talk with staff. I meet with department managers and others as needed and with finance staff more often. I communicate with the mayor almost daily, and with other council members about once weekly. A day involves budgeting, financial reporting, debt administration, assessments, risk management, pensions, permits and licensing, investments, state reports, projects, updating and monitoring the general fund, special revenue funds, capital project funds, debt service funds, enterprise funds and the trust and agency funds. I work with staff to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of the city’s operations and public convenience and to identify and resolve problems, to plan and to coordinate services. I represent the city in various other areas, committees and organizations.

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