Fight shapes up for sheriff

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 26, 2002

Another candidate will jump into the race for County Sheriff, heating up the open-seat election.

Albert Lea Police Lieutenant Phil Bartusek was to announce his candidacy this morning, adding his name to the list already occupied by Sherff’s Deputy Bob Kindler and retired Deputy Mark Harig.

Incumbent Sheriff Don Nolander made it public that he would not run for reelection on April 11. In his 20 years in the elected position, Nolander was challenged only twice, in 1994 and 1982.

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The November election will be the first open-seat election since 1966.

Nolander took office by being appointed when former Sheriff Holland Laak retired before his term ended. ALPD officer Gene Seuser ran against Nolander in 1982, after Nolander had been in the office for six months, but lost by more than 10,000 votes.

Laak was also placed in the position in January 1967 through an appointment due to the sudden death of Sheriff Merrill Korthonar, who was in the office only for 26 days.

The last open-seat election, in November 1966 between Korthonar and Laak, was a fierce one. Korthonar won by a slim margin of 162 votes. The election administration could not announce the results until 5 a.m. the day following the election because of the close margin.

The next sheriff will likely be in charge of administering the transition to a new judicial facility being proposed, as well as tackling an increase in drug-related crimes.