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March 15, 2016 — Illinois Primary Election
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Rock Island County Board — Democratic PartyCandidate for Member, District 16

Photo of Kai Swanson

Kai Swanson

College Administrator
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Implementing effective and efficient governance structures in Rock Island County.
  • Restoring sound fiscal stewardship over County resources.
  • Working to ensure that the Rock Island County Board is a value-add to local and regional economic development efforts.



Profession:College Administrator
Special Assistant to the President, Augustana College (2005–current)
Member, Rock Island County Board — Appointed position (2015–current)
Editor, Augustana magazine, Augustana College (2000–2005)
Director of Public Relations, Augustana College (1995–2000)
News Editor, WVIK-FM (Augustana College) (1987–1995)


Augustana College B.A., German, with minor in history (1986)

Community Activities

Board Member, Doris and Victor Day Foundation (2011–current)
Board Member, National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education (2010–current)
President, Augustana Historical Society (2013–current)
Chair, Rock Island Human Rights Commission (2006–2013)
Board Chair, Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences (2004–2011)


Kai Swanson is special assistant to the president at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, a position he has held since 2005 at an institution he has served for almost 30 years. In this position, sometimes referred to as the “Director of Other Duties as Assigned,” Kai provides support for community relations, strategic communications and administration. Among those “other duties” have been helping organize the college’s sesquicentennial (2010), and serving as interim general manager of WVIK-FM, Augustana’s NPR-affiliate radio station (2011), as well as interim director of the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art (2014).

Before joining the President’s Office, Kai worked as news editor for WVIK, director of public relations for the college and editor of Augustana magazine. He became Augustana’s first executive assistant to the president in 2005.

Away from campus, Kai is a member of the Rock Island County Board, having been appointed in May of 2015. He’s also a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Rock Island, and has served the Lutheran Church regionally as a past member of the Northern Illinois Synod Council, and nationally as former chair of the ELCA’s Vocation and Education Program Committee. Currently, Kai serves as treasurer of the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education, secretary of the Doris & Victor Day Foundation, president of the Augustana Historical Society, and communications director for the Holocaust Remembrance Committee of the Quad Cities. He is a ten-gallon blood donor with the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center.

Since 1996, he has led Concert Conversations for the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, and between his time at WVIK and Augustana he has led tours of Scandinavia, England, Central Europe and China.

Kai is proud to be a product of Rock Island public schools, and is a 1986 graduate of Augustana College. Kai and his wife Jenni live in Rock Island, and between them, they five children and two grandchildren.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I am a liberal who believes that ideology and political philosophy should always inform but ought never dictate actions in local government. Whenever possible, collegiality should override dogma.

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