Herald Journal Columns
October 30, 2006 Herald Journal

How to win the McLeod Co. sheriff’s race


Recently, I’ve been directly exposed to the McLeod County sheriff’s race first-hand through my job as editor at the Herald Journal, and I thought I’d pass along a few notes for any future candidates who might want a recipe for how to win this particular seat. Here are my notes.

‘How to Win the McLeod County Sheriff’s Race,’ inspired by Sheriff Wayne Vinkemeier and candidate Mark Taylor

• Plant several coworkers who have an obvious interest in seeing you win at political debates, and have them ask loaded questions that your candidate can answer best, since he’s already positioned as sheriff and has “insider” information.

• Remember that official department policy that “suggests” you take unpaid leave due to a conflict of interest, if you are a candidate for public office?

Force the part-time guy (Scott Rehmann) to take unpaid leave, and keep the full-time guy (Mark Taylor) on as usual.

In fact, have the full-time guy (Taylor) wear official sheriff attire during parades and public appearances as much as possible.

Make the part-time guy (Rehmann) turn in all his McLeod County uniforms, to make sure he doesn’t get seen or associated with that department.

• Wait 10 days before the election, and then have the outgoing sheriff (Vinkemeier) write a vicious, last-minute attack with half-true statements in it.

Twist things around and put words in your opponent’s mouth that he never meant or said.

Go ahead and use official McLeod County sheriff letterhead for the letter, and deliver it during working hours, even though you are accusing your opponent of the same type of ethical lapses.

It’s perfectly OK to use taxpayer dollars, to promote a candidate that you hand-picked yourself.

Note: Vinkemeier’s letter, Rehmann’s response to it, and Rehmann’s original letter to the editor, which spurred the debate in the first place, are on this page.

We are only one of two papers in the county (the other being the Hutchinson Leader) that have more than one edition before the election, and therefore able to offer any response time at all to last-minute attacks.

Vinkemeier’s letter was turned in Friday afternoon, well after deadline. Due to the proximity of the election, we decided to contact Scott Rehmann, giving him a chance to respond before our Nov. 6 edition.

This newspaper has a last-minute attack letter policy, which means we don’t print those type of letters the issue just before the election (our Nov. 6 issue, or the day before the election).

• If you have problems with ethical newspaper editors who refuse to print this letter because your opponent won’t have time to refute the statements, then pay for an advertisement.

Everyone knows that negative attacks work.

• Encourage those in supervisory positions immediately under the current chief deputy/political candidate (Taylor) to write a letter to the editor to all county newspapers endorsing himself.

It’s not a conflict of interest to know which side your bread is buttered on, is it?

A fair race? May the best man win? I don’t think so

At the heart of it, I am naïve, because I really thought this would be a fair race between two good candidates.

But I was so wrong about Wayne Vinkemeier (in regards to his letter), and apparently wrong about Mark Taylor, too.

Seriously, I don’t know the first thing about Mark Taylor. But I know enough about human nature to say that you can tell the true nature of any person by watching them under pressure.

Anyone can be honest, patient and truthful when things are going their way.

However, once things get tough, or you start worrying about the basics like your job, then you will see what someone is really made of. And this is a closer race than I thought.

Although I don’t know Taylor, I do know enough about Scott Rehmann to tell you that you won’t see him stoop and crawl to this level.

He is a simple Christian man with steadfast morals and compassion, who doesn’t practice ethics based on convenience.

He won’t let a tight sheriff race change his ways.

Scott Rehmann is the last of the good guys.

Honestly, I think he is nuts for running for this office in the first place.

He should continue on his merry way, being a good father, husband, and a great cop, too.

Final thoughts: this is what my husband was deployed for, right?

Here are my final thoughts on the McLeod County sheriff’s race:

My husband, Brian Jensen, was deployed to Iraq for a year, served his country and then safely returned last year – to protect the freedom and first amendment rights of Mark Taylor and Wayne Vinkemeier to pull this last-minute stunt on a Christian opponent who plays by the rules.

Yes, that’s right.

Our family has gone through sacrifices and hardships from deployment, just so that these two men can take part in our democracy in such a fashion. It’s their freedom to do so! God bless America.

I hope people in Iraq eventually enjoy the same rights and privileges.

I wonder what kind of negative campaigns and dirty politics they will be able to run in Iraq, when they graduate to that point?

You know what I learned from the McLeod County sheriff’s race?

Being unethical isn’t against the law. Sheriffs and sheriff candidates are politicians first, and then whatever else second.

It’s just not enough to run on your own merit these days. And good guys finish last.

That stinks.

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