Cities and communities don’t exist in vacuums, and a Cloquet City Council candidate hopes she can help build relationships between the city and other local entities if she is elected.

Elizabeth “Lyz” Jaakola, 51, is a media and music teacher at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet and mother of three children. She believes she is in a unique position to develop new connections both within the Cloquet community and other local governments and agencies.

Jaakola had planned to run for the Ward 5 seat in 2020, but when the at-large seat opened up in 2018, she ran for that seat. She didn’t make it through the primary process in an election eventually won by Lara Wilkinson, but the experience was valuable this time around.

“I had my eyes set on this election at that time, but then that opportunity came up and I was encouraged to throw my hat in the ring,” Jaakola said. “I learned a lot about myself in that campaign, and now I know better what I need to do.”

The child of a Finnish-American father and an Ojibwe mother, Jaakola said she has experience in just how diverse the Cloquet community can be and she sees that diversity as an asset.

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The Fond du Lac Reservation and the City of Cloquet overlap both physically and with their interests, but many in the community don’t see the potential.

“Some people think of it as being two separate communities, but I think of it more like a Venn diagram because there are so many places at which we have common interests, common strengths and common needs,” Jaakola said. “Some are maybe not so obvious, but we should look at the resources that are available to each entity.”

Jaakola pointed to FDLTCC as a “perfect example” of a partnership between the reservation and the Minnesota State system, but sees potential for other joint partnerships between the city and the reservation.

She’s also been preparing for her campaign, and if elected, to serve on the council by reading council minutes, following the council’s actions closely and serving on the Cable TV Commission.

Jaakola has also looked into the deeper past of the area and found historic partnerships between the city and the reservation.

“When we see the city begin to become an entity and how the city was built, it was absolutely in conjunction with the reservation,” she said. “After the 1918 fire, we banded together in order to rebuild.”

In addition to partnering with the reservation, Jaakola hopes some previously established relationships can continue. The Cloquet Public Library expansion completed earlier this year was done with help from the state of Minnesota and local businesses to ensure the project was completed and the library had everything it needed to better serve the community.

Jaakola said she has been able to take advantage of many opportunities and wants to see others access those opportunities.

“I’d just like to see that for other people in our town, I’d like to see that for our kids,” she said. “I’d like people that come to town to see how we really maintain our hometown feeling and yet our kids have those wings so that they can share the values we have here embracing our differences and building community ... That is what Cloquet is built on, that’s what this region was built on.”

Early voting is ongoing

Early voting is already underway from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Carlton County Courthouse. In addition, early voting at the courthouse will be available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2.

On Election Day, the Ward 5 voting precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and the Fond du Lac Head Start building.