Herald Journal - Voters' Guide 2010
Herald Journal / Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch / Delano Herald Journal

Carver County Sheriff

Two people have filed for the position of Carver County Sheriff, Derek Lee and Jim Olson.

Derek Lee

Why are you running for office?

While working for the citizens as a Carver County deputy and a sergeant, I have always been driven to deliver professional and compassionate service.

I am passionate about serving and treating others in the way I want to be treated; taking the sheriff’s office to the next level of service, with integrity, by building on what is there now; and using my leadership skills, education, and experience to engage the staff in an ongoing effort to make the organizational systems work for the benefit of the community, and the citizens we serve.

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

The Carver County Sheriff’s Office has achieved success in many areas over the years. However, the sheriff’s office is due for an in-depth analysis of the current systems and programs.

I will seek citizen input, engage the current staff in working together to complete a new assessment of the sheriff’s office.

Just as we each need an annual physical or annual financial audit to determine our personal strengths or areas for improvement, the sheriff’s office is in need of this fresh appraisal.

Keeping in mind budgetary constraints, here are two issues to be included in the organizational analysis: contract policing, and building a strong network of partners inside and outside of law enforcement.

Even though the current contracting system works, I believe that there is room for discussion and improvement. I will gather representatives from each community to assist in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the current contracting system. Based on the input received, I will develop a comprehensive action plan focused on serving and protecting our communities.

Building a network of partners inside and outside of law enforcement will provide assistance in times of need through shared resources. Whatever form the assistance takes, it is vital to develop strong relationships before an emergency arises.

Why should you be elected?

With the retirement of Sheriff Bud Olson, fresh new leadership is required to ensure the delivery of effective and professional services. I have the education and experience that uniquely qualify me to be the next sheriff of Carver County.

My education includes a master of arts in organizational leadership, and a bachelor of science degree in management ethics. I also have been a licensed deputy sheriff for 23 years – three years in Ramsey County, and 20 years in Carver County.

I’ve served as a sergeant in patrol, civil, investigation, and support services divisions.

I’ve supervised almost every facet of a sheriff’s office, including warrants, courts, evidence, training, volunteer services, community resource officers, and school resource officers.

My leadership skills have helped me earn the respect, support and endorsement of the dedicated men and women who respond to your 911 calls, and they know me better than almost anyone else.

Jim Olson

Why are you running for office?

Public safety is extremely important to me, both personally and professionally. Since 1987, I have dedicated my life to public safety in Carver County. I work, live, and worship here. My family and friends live here. It is important to me that public safety continues to develop as it has under the leadership of the county’s current sheriff, “Bud” Olson.

So, from the perspective of ownership, I have a vested interest to see that the Carver County Sheriff’s Office continues to foster a cohesive bond between and among its residents and the deputies that proudly serve.

I have been allowed to grow and be a part of that effort as a senior member of the Sheriff’s Management Team. With the support and encouragement of our current sheriff, along with the encouragement of community leaders throughout the county, I am ready to take on the next step.

I have the proven experience, knowledge, skills, and management experience to take on this honorable task to serve its residents.

Most importantly, I promise to hold true to the principles of treating all I serve with respect and dignity.

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

The biggest issues will be the continued need to focus on shrinking budgets, a proportional response for public safety service as a result of population growth, and the accelerated change in our demographics.

In today’s world, the budget is at the top of everybody’s list. We have had to make a number of difficult budget cuts the past few years. In a number of ways, this has been good.

We have redefined what our core missions are, our mandated services, and we have evaluated how effective and necessary every one of our services and programs are to public safety in Carver County. I think it is beneficial to do this every year.

It is important for us to be cognizant that there are people that have lost their homes, jobs, and insurance during this economic downturn. I will control spending without sacrificing public safety.

The second issue is population growth. The sheriff’s office, along with Carver County services, must realize and anticipate the needs of a growing community. We must serve our residents and deal with this growth with innovation and efficiency that will avoid any significant cost growth, while actually improving services.

In 1990, Carver County had 48,000 residents; in 2020 we are projected to have 164,000. The county needs to be in the forefront with developing roads, parks, trails, and infrastructure to support the growing population. Public safety needs to have a front seat at the table and measure the impact of this growth.

We must be prepared to work in concert with the county and influence the design and build of these projects so that public safety is a consideration at every applicable turn.

There will be great opportunity during this time of growth, but we need to accomplish it in a way that is sustainable, which maintains our wonderful quality of life and enhances public safety.

Third, as our population grows, our demographics are changing. We are becoming more diverse as our population is aging. The Star Tribune reported that there will be more people over age 64 than school-age children in Minnesota by 2020.

This will have a huge impact on the services we provide to the public. We need to start planning for this today.

Innovation in our professional development of the deputy sheriff force will be a big and integral part of introducing this change. We will solicit input and information from the community-at-large in order to understand more completely just what service has to change, and how it has to change, to deal with the dynamics of an older clientele.

Why should you be elected?

I have had many wonderful career opportunities while working, living, and volunteering in Carver County. I am grateful for that. I have been a deputy sheriff with the Carver County Sheriff’s Office since 1987.

I am currently the lieutenant in charge of the county’s largest city, Chanhassen, which is also the sheriff’s largest contract community. I oversee the policing budget, develop community-policing plans, and interpret/administer collective bargaining agreements.

I also have a lead role with fostering employee performance and promotional processes. I work closely with city staff and city council to make sure the sheriff’s office meets the needs and expectations of their residents.

Under my leadership this past year, we were able to reduce the number of crimes by more than 25 percent. The trend continues, with another 6-percent reduction as of July. Money Magazine named Chanhassen as the second-best of small cities to live in, in the entire country; citing public safety as a major component for that rating.

As a member of the Sheriff’s Management Team, I oversee a major portion of a $16.9 million budget, and revenues of $5.3 million. As lieutenant, I have successfully developed, prepared, and managed million-dollar budgets, while maintaining a high level of service, without allowing any significant cost growth. We have had to make difficult budget decisions in today’s economic climate. As a former city councilman, I was involved with the city budget.

I have been honored to have been assigned some of the county’s most significant public safety assignments. When the president of the US came to Chanhassen and gave an outdoor speech, I was responsible for working with the Secret Service in development and implementation of the security plan.

I coordinated the sheriff’s office assistance to Hennepin County for the Republican National Convention, and I was the Sheriff’s Office Incident Commander for the Waconia Farm Supply explosion.

During my career, I have conducted crime prevention programs and taught the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program in the schools. I was school resource officer, a member of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team, and a detective for six years. As a detective, I was given the Carver County Prosecutor’s Award for my work on the Adrian Riley triple homicide case.

In 2000, I was promoted to sergeant and supervised a patrol shift and the Sheriff Emergency Response Team.

The beginning of 2003, I was assigned as Chanhassen Liaison Sergeant to oversee policing. I was promoted to lieutenant in 2006, and was asked to oversee the Operations Division. I was responsible for budgeting, scheduling, and planning, as well as overseeing large cases.

My community involvement has included serving a term as a city councilman, volunteer firefighter, church council, and Sunday school teacher. I am a current member of the West Carver Rotary.

I have worked and volunteered in every area of this county. I understand policing from both the city aspect as well as the county aspect.

I have prepared and managed million-dollar budgets and supervised numerous employees. I have been an active and positive leader in the sheriff’s office for many years.

I have the support of Sheriff Bud Olson, Chaska Chief of Police Scott Knight, Chief Deputy Bob VanDenBroeke, Jail Administrator Reed Ashpole, Commander Jeff Enevold, Mayor Tom Furlong, Mayor Roger Lehrke, and former mayors of Chaska, Bob Roepke and Gary Van Eyll.

I have the proven experience, knowledge, skills, and ability to continue moving the sheriff’s office forward. We cannot go back to where we were in the late 1990s.

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