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Four sheriff candidates make their case
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news Alexandria, 56308
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

To provide voters with more information about the Douglas County sheriff’s race, the newspaper sent questionnaires to the four candidates.

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They include incumbent Sheriff Troy Wolbersen and challengers Rich Homan, Scot Umlauf and Greg Windhurst.

The two top vote-getters in the August 12 primary will be on the ballot for the general election on November 4.

The candidates were asked to limit their responses to the five questions to no more than 500 words.

RICH HOMAN

1. What are your qualifications and background for the sheriff position?

I can tell you that I have a strong work ethic and have shown my ability over the past 28 years in what it takes regarding responsibility, accountability and management skills. I have worked for the State Patrol for more than 24 years. I have been a resident of Douglas County for 20 plus years and I am committed to making Douglas County a safe place to reside. I have served for several years on the Alexandria Technical and Community College Law Enforcement Advisory Board. I am also a peer counselor for critical incidents.

2. Why did you decide to run for sheriff?

I was approached approximately one year ago from within the sheriff’s office to run for the position of sheriff. After many thoughts and prayers and conversation with my family and friends, I feel the time is right for me to be your sheriff. I believe “management” does not consist of one person doing it alone. I believe in surrounding a leader with other leaders within the office resulting in the best and most responsible decisions made. I call it teamwork.

3. What issues would you make a priority as sheriff in the next four years?

The number one issue would be to bring back continuity to the sheriff’s office, which will lead to better teamwork and open communications between the citizens of Douglas County and other law enforcement agencies. I believe in accountability; to the sheriff’s office, the community and other law enforcement agencies are the highest priorities. I also feel that we need to have better working partnerships with local government.

4. What is the biggest threat to public safety in Douglas County and how would you address it?

I believe the biggest threat to public safety in Douglas County is the illegal drug problem. I would attempt to address this drug problem by being very proactive in the area of drug and criminal activity; implementing aggressive use of the local drug task force and working in conjunction with local, state and federal agencies in combating the problem. Crimes against persons such as burglary and theft are often the result of illegal drug use or activity; they are also a threat to law enforcement and the community.

5. Share at least two budget-saving ideas for the sheriff’s office.

I believe a better way to look at budget saving issues is to work within the budget and be fiscally accountable. One way would be responsible use of overtime. Another way to adjust costs would be using more local resources, such as the Alexandria Technical College, online training and interagency training.

SCOT UMLAUF

1. What are your qualifications and background for the sheriff position?

I have worked for the sheriff’s office for over 20 years and currently serve as patrol sergeant. I have nine years of supervision and management experience while assigned as the Special Agent in Charge of the West Central Minnesota Narcotics Task Force, which included budgeting, securing grants, financial and records management. In 2005, I took over the task force that was in jeopardy of disbanding due to poor management. One county had left, a second was about to leave and the state was going to cut off funding. I was able to bring this multi-jurisdictional task force together to make it one of the best in the state. I’ve testified at Senate sub-committee hearings representing rural drug task forces and sat on a round table for the Sentencing Guidelines Commission. I’ve represented Minnesota in Washington, D.C. and lobbied for continued funding to support drug task forces.

2. Why did you decide to run for sheriff?

I will provide leadership, decision making and bring new ideas to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Douglas County. I have the experience and leadership to make a difference.

3. What issues would you make a priority as sheriff in the next four years?

The administration at the sheriff’s office has stalled. Decisions are not being made and the suggestions of experienced supervisors are ignored. The sheriff’s office has a proud and dedicated staff of men and women. As sheriff, I will listen to their thoughts, discuss their ideas and tap their knowledge as I lead this talented group forward in an organized, efficient manner. Together we will focus on the responsibilities of the sheriff’s office and work hard to provide high quality, respectful public service to all of Douglas County.

I will be accountable to the citizens of Douglas County and make myself visible and available. I will bring fiscal responsibility and work with the county commissioners to build a trusting relationship. It is important to remember we are operating with taxpayer money and any unused money should be returned to the county.

4. What is the biggest threat to public safety in Douglas County and how would you address it?

Drug abuse! Drug abuse takes a huge toll on our society and young people are particularly vulnerable. The need or desire for drugs is responsible for a large percentage of thefts, robberies, assaults and even murders. I have seen too many lives affected, broken families and deaths from drug abuse.

As sheriff, I will lead the law enforcement effort to relentlessly arrest and prosecute those who illegally deal drugs. However, law enforcement cannot solve the drug abuse problem alone. As sheriff, I will be a leader to partner with other groups and organizations to seek out community-wide innovative solutions to reduce the drug abuse problem in our county.

5. Share at least two budget-saving ideas for the sheriff’s office.

As sheriff, I will better manage equipment used by the sheriff’s office. The taxpayers don’t throw their cars away at 80,000 miles and neither should we. I will plan ahead to organize and manage our workforce to reduce unnecessary overtime. Businesses are constantly evaluating their methods and implementing creative solutions to save money; it’s time law enforcement does the same.

GREG WINDHURST

1. What are your qualifications and background for the sheriff position?

I have served Douglas County for 24 years, including 14 years as Patrol Sergeant. My leadership experience within the office includes supervisory positions with the Water Patrol Unit, Dive/Rescue Team, Toward Zero Death Traffic Enforcement Unit, Snowmobile Enforcement Patrol, K-9 Unit and regional Drug Task Force. I also work on the Douglas County ARMER radio communications project, and instruct personnel county-wide in its use. Additionally, I have been a jailor, dispatcher, and on SWAT as a sniper and entry team member. I am nationally certified in Emergency Management and Preparedness. I also have extensive experience with policy manual development, budgeting, and obtaining and managing grants.

2. Why did you decide to run for sheriff?

My service with the office has given me a deep appreciation for and commitment to the citizens of Douglas County, who deserve an effective sheriff’s office. To move forward it is occasionally necessary for a change in leadership in order to bring fresh ideas and new approaches. I am well positioned to provide that leadership due to the skills and knowledge I have developed. I will bring a new perspective while being ready to lead from Day 1 because of my understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the office. This will allow me to move the office in a new direction quickly without the need for a long learning curve.

3. What issues would you make a priority as sheriff in the next four years?

I am devoted to making the office a respected, responsive and community-oriented enforcement agency. I am a strong believer in interagency cooperation and am determined to establish strong working relationships with local, regional and state governmental and enforcement agencies. The impacts of substance abuse present a significant threat to the community and will also be a leading priority for the office while I am sheriff. Finally, I will work to establish partnerships throughout the county to identify community needs and implement solutions that best serve the citizens of Douglas County.

4. What is the biggest threat to public safety in Douglas County and how would you address it?

The biggest threat to safety and well-being in the county is substance abuse and associated crime. I will implement a multi-level approach to address the problem. First, demonstrating a continued commitment to drug education through the DARE program and the establishment of additional continuing education programs for youth and young adults. Second, developing programs to help children and families affected by substance abuse. Third, establishing a cooperative effort with local law enforcement agencies and fighting to reduce substance abuse crimes. Fourth, working closely with courts, probation officers and attorneys to reduce the likelihood of reoccurrence.

5. Share at least two budget-saving ideas for the sheriff’s office.

My experience as a sergeant has given me a thorough understanding of financial operations within the sheriff’s office. Maintaining necessary staffing levels is essential to reducing overtime costs and controlling spending. Effectively planning and preparing for staffing changes is also essential to cost control. I have extensive experience obtaining and managing state and federal grants and will vigorously pursue grant funding to open up additional resources for the office. I respect the vital role of the sheriff in spending taxpayer money efficiently to avoid waste, and I will continue to be a responsible steward of public funds.

TROY WOLBERSEN

1. What are your qualifications and background for the sheriff position?

I have been sheriff of Douglas County since 2007. Prior to being sheriff, I was chief deputy for 6 1/2 years. With this experience, I have managed the budget, all operations of the sheriff’s office and worked cooperatively with the public, and local, state and federal agencies. I have also been a patrol sergeant, deputy sheriff and jailer/dispatcher. I have been assigned as a narcotics investigator, SWAT Team leader, field training officer and firearms and use of force instructor. I have well rounded law enforcement experience, training and education and a respect for and understanding of service to my community.

2. Why did you decide to run for sheriff?

I have a strong passion for serving the people of Douglas County. This is the community where I grew up, went to school, got married and have raised my three children. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, I returned to Douglas County and have served my community as a member of the sheriff’s office for 27 years. As sheriff, I regularly receive positive public feedback as to the service my office provides to our community. With that community response and support, I feel an obligation and desire to continue to serve as sheriff and lead the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

3. What issues would you make a priority as sheriff in the next four years?

Strong community relationships and involvement are necessary for the sheriff’s office to be successful in protecting and serving our community. I will continue to make these relationships a priority. Our office is involved in many programs and activities that are successful in keeping us involved and connected with our community. We are also using technology and social media to keep our public informed and connected. Facebook, Twitter and our newly-designed website have been well received by the public. Our emergency notification system, CodeRed, is another way we can keep the public informed.

4. What is the biggest threat to public safety in Douglas County and how would you address it?

Many crimes happen because of illegal drug use. We attack this problem from multiple directions. Deputies have a variety of training and assignments for this effort. A deputy is assigned to our county schools to build relationships and educate students, parents and school staff. A deputy has been assigned to the regional drug and violent crime task force. Deputies have been trained in drug/crime interdiction. Our K-9s are trained for drug detection. We have relationships with many governmental agencies and the public for information sharing. It takes a combination of dedicated employees, enforcement and education in this effort.

5. Share at least two budget-saving ideas for the sheriff’s office.

As sheriff, I have implemented a number of budget saving ideas and will continue to when possible. Over the years, cost saving ideas have come from me, my staff, training, other departments and the public. Experience has taught me that cost saving ideas have to be thoroughly evaluated to ensure they are cost effective. We have saved money through building design, technology and making cuts that haven’t impacted service. I take my responsibilities very seriously when using taxpayers’ dollars. I have proven that by always staying within my budget that has been reviewed and approved by the county board.

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