When Jacob Skluzacek enrolled at Winona State University, he had planned on becoming a teacher. Somewhere around his sophomore year he had a change of heart and decided to double major in political science and public administration. And now he is Winnebago’s new city administrator.
Skluzacek lived the first few years of his life on a dairy farm outside of Lonsdale.
“When I was about 5 years old we moved into Lonsdale,” Skluzacek says.
Skluzacek’s father, Greg, is the park foreman for the city of Prior Lake, a job he has held for the last 19 years. His mother, Deanna, does in-home day care.
“The fact my father worked for the city of Prior Lake gave me some exposure to city work,” Skluzacek comments.
He attended high school in New Prague and graduated in 2015. He played football for the Trojans and played summer baseball on the American Legion team.
“My favorite subject in high school was social studies,” he explains. “But I also really liked a civics class I was able to take.”
Upon graduation from high school, Skluzacek headed to the city of Winona where he enrolled at Winona State University.
“After making the decision not to be a teacher, I switched my major to public works,” he remarks. “I was able to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, a Bachelor of Science degree in public administration and a minor in history.”
He graduated from Winona State in May. During his last semester he interned with the city of Winona.
“I did a lot of job shadowing with their city manager,” Skluzacek states.
With college in the rear view mirror, it was time to venture out and seek employment.
“There were a lot of openings posted on the League of Minnesota Cities website,” Skluzacek says.
Winnebago was one of the cities advertising for a city administrator.
“I am from a small town and part of the appeal with Winnebago was the size of the town,” he remarks. “I am also not a big fan of traffic, so again, Winnebago is a good fit.”
Then there is the relatively short distance between Winnebago and his parent’s house. He is the youngest of five children and it is important to him he be able to stay connected with his family members.
“We have a close knit family. My oldest sister Jamie works for Three Links, an assisted living place in Northfield. My brother Justin was in the Marine Corps and did a tour in Afghanistan. He now works for the street department in Prior Lake. My sister Jessica works in sales and lives the farthest away in Detroit Lakes,” he explains. “My youngest sister works in Lakeville for Genz-Ryan.”
His eyes light up when he talks about the rest of his family.
“I have five nieces and nephews and there is one more on the way,” he shares.
He has not been on the job very long but he has already found a place to live and is getting settled in.
“Winnebago feels like a very close community, where everyone knows each other and looks out for one another,” he says. “It reminds me of home.”
He has a list of goals to accomplish in a relatively short period of time.
“I have already met all the department heads,” he states. “I have met a few of the business owners and I want to get out and meet the rest of them as soon as possible.”
He has also met with Annie Leibel, who works for Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) while serving as Winnebago’s EDA specialist.
“I have experience working with CEDA in Winona and have been very impressed with the organization,” Skluzacek comments.
He begins his job as the city administrator with many items already on his plate.
“We have the Northwest Street project in progress, we have the school and that will need attention, and then we have the old grocery store on Main Street which we would like to get torn down,” Skluzacek says as he lists the items needing immediate attention.
He also has other ideas about what he would like to get accomplished for the city.
“My own personal goal would be job creation,” he remarks. “We need new or expanding businesses which would require more workers.”
Fulfillment of those goals would lead to another need.
“I would sure like to see new housing,” he comments. “Part of what I want to accomplish is to get everyone on the same page and working towards a common goal.”
He likes what he has seen in the city so far.
“We have a great downtown for a city this size and I think it has a lot of potential,” Skluzacek remarks. “We have a number of churches, a community library, a pool and some very nice parks.”
He also knows it is important to find some time to relax and unwind.
“I play bass guitar, I enjoy boating and summer fishing and am looking forward to checking out some of the lakes in the area,” Skluzacek says. “I like ice fishing but have not had the chance to do much.”
He would also like to travel to the Czech Republic, the home of his ancestors.
And he does have a girlfriend. She resides in Lonsdale while working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
“I am just thankful for the chance to prove myself while working to help make Winnebago an even better place to live,” he concludes.