Sherburne County’s Administrator since 1998, Brian Bensen, recently received the most prestigious award that can be given his position. The award, the Joe Ries Excellence in Management Award, was given to him by his peers, the Minnesota Association of County Administrators. Outside of this collective, this award might not seem like a big deal, but Bensen was chosen as the best of Minnesota’s 87 counties, so it is a big deal to anyone paying attention.
Bensen has worked for the county since 1978, then focusing his efforts on environment health issues. Back when he started, his plan wasn’t to stay working for Sherburne County for more than a year. Some 30+ years later, he still works in the county he was raised in. Sherburne County is one of the fastest growing counties in Minnesota, growing from just under 30,000 residents when Bensen started to now approximately 90,000. His focus has been growing the community while making sure to remain committed to rural roots he grew up with.
“It’s so easy to drop into the details and have a day consumed by small things,” Bensen said. “Part of my job is to keep the County Board focused on making decisions on big picture things. It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing so many details and possibilities that you miss everything.”
Bensen’s work has helped bring the Northstar Rail Line to Big Lake with proposed expansions to Becker and St. Cloud. This can help bring folks both to the Twin Cities, but also north to Sherburne County.
Bensen could have pursued careers as a lawyer or a teacher like he once thought early in his life, but Sherburne County has benefitted greatly from his career path, and the Joe Ries Excellence in Management Award proves as much.