Aug. 28, 2006

Three-way race for McLeod County Sheriff

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

One of the three candidates for McLeod County Sheriff will be knocked out of the race Tuesday, Sept. 12, following the primary election.

Voters who want their candidate to advance to the Tuesday, Nov. 7 general election will need to get out and vote in the primary, because only the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes in the primary will be placed on the ballot in November.

This means that either local candidate Scott Rehmann of Winsted, Mark Taylor of Hutchinson, or Wes Olson of Glencoe, will be eliminated in the primary.

Wes Olson

Why are you running for office?

I am running for the office of sheriff because law enforcement has been my life for 29 years. Being able to help people in time of need energizes and motivates me to keep myself at the “beck and call” in every area of crime.

In 1976, at 19 years old, I became a full-time patrol officer in Bird Island, my hometown. I was hired with the Renville County Sheriff’s Department as deputy in 1979.

I moved to Glencoe in 1981, and joined the Glencoe Police Department. I achieved the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, and chief of police in 24 years, and retired in 2005.

My leadership ability and enthusiasm for law enforcement drives me to take my experience and education, and continue to take on the challenges as sheriff of McLeod County.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

I have concerns about many issues. One, at the top of my list, would have to be the rapidly rising problems with methamphetamine- and drug-related crimes.

Many great measures have been taken to get this under control. I feel we need to invest more time and money into detection and apprehension of anyone manufacturing and selling these dangerous drugs that are destroying family members.

The second issue is the always important, and most challenging; the budget.

Controlling spending is a delicate area. I feel tax dollars need to be used in the most efficient and constructive way possible. I will be looking into the areas of payroll, overtime, and deputy turnover.

If our tax dollars have gone into training and uniform costs for a deputy, then their dedication and service to the county should also be of the utmost importance.

Wages need to match the commitment, abilities, and job performance of the deputy. Cut the wasteful spending, and put the dollar where it will do the most good.

Why should you be elected?

To be elected as sheriff of McLeod County would be a very proud moment for me. I have taken a lot of pride in my ability and experience at enforcing the law through the years.

I take the time, and have the patience, for hearing the concerns of all citizens.

My leadership ability, especially during a crisis, makes me sure I am the right man for this position.

I have the enthusiasm and the drive it takes to be an effective sheriff. I am ready to take on the challenges and changes that arise with the office of the sheriff.

Scott Rehmann

Why are you running for office?

My heart has been in public service for a good number of years. I have chosen law enforcement as a means to stand alongside people who want to make a difference in the community.

I have also chosen to stand in the path of those who wish to come against the citizens who make McLeod County their home.

Over the many moments of my career in law enforcement, and working with youth as a chemical dependency counselor, I have always strived to help build strong, healthy, and positive relationships in the community.

I believe we are in a time period now that requires inter-connectivity of resources and the people who hold them. With the help of citizens and law enforcement agencies, we can build healthy communities for tomorrow.

As McLeod County sheriff, I would be able to provide the leadership and direction to see this vision become a reality. Serving the people of McLeod County and leading by example is my focus.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

I believe we need to teach children the valuable resource they are, to ensure a bright future for us. Unfortunately, there are many negative influences out there trying to lure children into drug/alcohol use, criminal behavior, along with other at-risk activities that hurt families. This robs our community of the positive influences and contributions these children could give.

In my view, this as a very high priority problem. I believe the answer is for law enforcement to form close relationships with local communities, helping families utilize existing resources available, which are proven programs that can strengthen and encourage children to live healthy, productive lives. This would be a strong force to help families and communities to continue to grow.

The second greatest problem is not criminal behavior itself, but a lack of community. We can blame drugs, alcohol use, along with a host of other causations, but it really comes down to each person being responsible for his/her self, along with watching out for the betterment of our neighbor.

I have recently been exposed to communities that have taken on the concept of the new “Three Rs” in education (Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships), and also adding a fourth, (Resources).

These tie in with my goal of helping communities become more interactive, and interdependent. By developing programs that will help citizens become more involved, and aware in their community, we will be able to take the “Three Rs” concept, and make it a reality for safe neighborhoods and school.

Why should you be elected?

I will be strong on the investigation of criminal activity, and work diligently in the apprehension of the criminals.

My vision is to work together with all organizations and citizens who wish to minimize the elements that contribute to crime and disorder.

With this goal in mind, I believe we can create opportunities that will foster more community togetherness and greater quality of life for all residents of McLeod County.

Law enforcement involves everyone, and must be looked at and addressed from every angle, with the support of the entire community. Less crime means less cost to the citizens, sheriff’s office, and the court system.

I believe I am the best candidate for McLeod County Sheriff because I have a positive, viable plan for the future. I am a man of integrity, and intend to use every resource to protect and serve the people of McLeod County. I believe in the capabilities and skill of our law enforcement personal, and am confident I am the right person to lead.

Mark Taylor

Why are you running for office?

My progressive experience in law enforcement, and specifically with the McLeod County Sheriff’s Office, has prepared me for this next challenge. I have spent the last 19 years learning, performing, and improving the systems, processes, and services provided by the sheriff’s office.

Specifically, I have served five years as a deputy sheriff, patrolling McLeod County’s roads; five years as a detective, investigation of criminal offenses; as the emergency management director for a brief period; two years as a detective sergeant, developing leadership skills; and nearly eight years as chief deputy sheriff, partnering with the sheriff to lead the office into the future.

With this experience, I have developed the skills, knowledge, and competencies to have a positive impact on law enforcement in McLeod County.

In addition, I have a genuine interest in helping and leading less experienced officers and staff. I fully understand what the sheriff position entails, as well as the duties of the office. This has confirmed and strengthened my desire to be sheriff.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

The first major issue affecting the sheriff’s office is overcrowding in the jail and Law Enforcement Center (LEC). These are actually two separate overcrowding issues.

McLeod County is currently housing our inmates at other facilities at a cost to the taxpayers of over $300,000 a year.

The Law Enforcement Center, where the sheriff’s office staff is housed, has exceeded capacity.

As chief deputy, I co-chaired a task force to study these issues. After carefully reviewing all of the data, the task force made a recommendation to the county board for an expansion to the LEC and jail.

The work continues on this issue, as a new facility is planned and developed. My goal is to balance the needs of the future with fiscal responsibility.

The second issue facing the sheriff’s office is the growth of McLeod County. Although growth, itself, isn’t negative, it puts a greater demand on law enforcement services.

Increased population, along with close proximity to the metropolitan area, is affecting and increasing calls for service.

One current concern, shared by both the public and law enforcement, is the need to stay on top of methamphetamine- and crime-related issues. McLeod County has managed to combat these issues in the past, and it will be absolutely necessary to ensure our ability to do so in the future.

As chief deputy, I have already begun leading efforts to improve technology, and to increase capacity through efficient work processes, both of which allow us to maximize our effectiveness in dealing with crime and methamphetamine-related issues.

Ongoing training will also be a critical focus area. If elected as sheriff, I will continue working toward these solutions so the battle isn’t lost.

Why should you be elected?

For several decades, the residents of McLeod County have been the recipients of progressive, trouble-free law enforcement services. The professionalism of McLeod County’s past sheriffs has enabled the office to spend its energy on fully protecting and serving the taxpayers.

Working for two of these past sheriffs (Duane Kopesky and Wayne Vinkemeier) has instilled in me the values and vision necessary to lead into the future.

We have proven our responsiveness to the needs of the taxpayer, while striving for continuous improvement in the services we provide.

Several of these improvement efforts are in their early stages of design and implementation, including the new Jail/LEC facility; technology upgrades to improve emergency response time; mapping and GPS; wireless technology (squad car and dispatch); and contracting issues with communities.

While there’s a lot of work left to be done, my involvement in the up-front planning stages will go far to ensure successful completion of these projects, without added burden to the taxpayer.

Being a nearly 20-year veteran of the McLeod County Sheriff’s Office has helped me develop long-standing, solid relationships with staff members, as well as valuable partnerships with members of other McLeod County agencies and surrounding law enforcement communities. These partnerships will be critical in guiding the success of the sheriff’s office in the years to come.

Electing me as sheriff will provide for a much smoother transition for staff, other agencies, and taxpayers alike. This, while ensuring you are electing the person most qualified and ready to step in and be your next sheriff.

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