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Dunn County's 1st female commissioner thankful

Donna Scott

Being the first female commissioner in Dunn County is an important milestone that Donna Scott doesn't give much thought to, given the pressing matters ahead for the growing oil-producing county.

"I didn't know about it when I was running for the position and I'd never thought about it before," Scott said about being the first and only female member of the commission. "I don't find that I face any more challenges than the other commissioners. We've all got a lot to handle as the county grows."

Scott jumped at the chance to lead Dunn County during the oil boom after a few friends asked her if she would be interested in running for an open County Commission position.

"I've always been interested in public service and government, and I was on the Killdeer School Board previous to this," Scott said. "My husband encouraged me to run for the commission and I decided that I would run. I like Dunn County and there are really good people there, and I thought to myself I would be willing to serve if the public elected me."

Scott and her husband, Bill, whose aunt might have been Dunn County's first female county judge, lived in Manning after they married in 1980.

The couple, who have four children, lived in North Dakota until 1991, when they moved to southwest Montana for about seven years in order to save Scott's family ranch from being purchased by outside interests.

"My family had that land in Montana since the 1800s and we fought hard to keep it and we won," she said. "Doing all the hard work we had to do to keep the land really helped to spark my interest in getting into government work."

They returned to Manning in 1998 and a year later Scott was asked to be Dunn County's emergency manager, a position she held from 2000 to 2007.

"As emergency manager, I got to meet other emergency managers and state officials in Bismarck," she said. "It showed me just how government works and I enjoyed the work I did."

Scott said she spent "three years out of the loop" until her election to the commission in 2010.

"There was a huge learning curve when I got onto the commission, but I love what I do," she said, despite the challenges that lie ahead for Dunn County's growth in energy production and its history of agriculture.

"I hope we are able to balance the agricultural while we work with the oil industry that is coming into the county," Scott said. "Dunn County is right in the eye of the storm, as far as oil production goes, but we want to keep a balance between industry and ag. It's important to do that, but it is a big challenge and we'll do the best job we can."

That includes maintaining roads, which have been a big issue in Dunn County since Scott, who is in charge of the county's road projects portfolio, took a seat on the county's highest level position.

"With all of the things we, as commissioners, have to focus on, I'm thankful the commissioners voted to take the commission from a three-member board, which it was until 2010, to a five-member board," she said, citing a more than 80 percent approval by the voters to expand the number of commission positions. "The voters seemed to see what was coming and that the commission needed to expand."