Better Know Your Leaders: Gene Jackson
Name: Gene Jackson
Position with the city: Dickinson City Commission vice president and Planning and Zoning commissioner
For how long: Six years
When did you move to Dickinson: 1976
You’re vice president of the Dickinson City Commission and have to fill in for President Dennis Johnson from time-to-time, is it enjoyable to take on that role from time to time? I don’t know if “enjoyable” is the word, but I’m very comfortable doing so. I have convictions about how our city should move forward in these significant years. Those convictions dictate my role as city commissioner regardless of whether or not I’m filling in for Dennis or simply carrying out my role as city commissioner.
What special insights do you feel you bring to the commission? Sue and I arrived in Dickinson in 1976, six months before oil was discovered in the Little Knife oil field. This was the beginning of the “boom” that we experienced in the 1970s and ‘80s. I spent those years working on infrastructure, land use, financial and other challenges Dickinson — and many other cities in southwestern North Dakota — were facing during that oil play. I had a front-row seat watching the things we in Dickinson did well during those times and the things we could have done better. The Bakken boom arrived at about the same time I was first elected to the commission and not a day goes by that I don’t call on my experiences of 30 years ago.
What has surprised you most about Dickinson’s growth in this recent oil boom? I suppose the surprise is how predictable the successful drilling of a Bakken well has become compared to the “wildcat” days of 30 years ago. What has not been surprising are the growth challenges we face, so many of which are so similar to the ’70s.
You’re also on the Planning and Zoning Commission, how do the discussions at that board differ from the city commission? The mission of the planning and zoning commission is narrower and, oftentimes, more concentrated that the city commissions. Land use, zoning and subdivision approvals are so key to the future quality of Dickinson, and planning and zoning is the first tier of scrutiny those items receive in our city government.
What is your favorite book, movie and TV show? Maybe no one favorite, but I immensely enjoy reading history and biographies.