Sheriff’s race is crowded; other county races go without challengers

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The filings are complete for all races in Minnesota. For Freeborn County, there are four candidates for sheriff and most of the other races are uncontested.

Here is an overview:

Freeborn County sheriff

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Mark Harig, a resident of rural Albert Lea, is currently completing his second term as the county’s 23rd sheriff. When he filed for re-election he spoke of some of his highlights as sheriff including, the new ARMER radio system has been in the planning stages for several years.

“It is satisfying to see all of this planning and hard work come into being,” he said.

The federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement contract has created 17 new jobs during an economic downfall and has given the county the opportunity to earn revenue to offset the costs of building and operating the jail more efficiently, he said.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Freeborn County commissioners and for the residents of Freeborn County,” Harig said. “I look forward to continuing as your sheriff to upgrade emergency management planning and training within the Sheriff’s Office to keep Freeborn County safe.”

Marc Johnson, a rural Emmons resident, is currently a deputy sheriff for Freeborn County and said he wants to give residents of Freeborn County “the opportunity to choose someone with more experience, education and integrity to properly run the Sheriff’s Office.”

He is a veteran of the Marines and has worked as a correctional officer, jailer and deputy sheriff of two other counties throughout his career. He graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato, with a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement. He said he promises to always follow the law enforcement code of ethics and would require every deputy to do the same.

“I have a commitment to this community, a respect for its residents and the vast education and experience to better serve the residents of Freeborn County as their sheriff. I would like your help in returning the integrity and fairness in Freeborn County,” Johnson said.

Bob Kindler, a rural Albert Lea resident, is an investigator and supervisor with the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, and has been part of the department since 1987, when he joined as a patrol deputy.

“There are many challenges ahead for the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office,” Kindler said. “I will use my education, experience and ethical conduct to transform the Sheriff’s Office into an efficient and highly effective organization now and into the future.”

Kindler has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and is a graduate of the Blandin Community Leadership program. He recently attended a national conference about working with people with disabilities who are crime victims. He said he has spent most of his career living and working in Freeborn County.

“This election will give residents the opportunity to choose a sheriff who has the best interests of Freeborn County in mind,” Kindler said.

He said having a diverse field of candidates with all their own ideas will be a benefit to the residents of Freeborn County.

“It’s a real benefit for the residents so they can hear these ideas and then they can choose which candidates they think will best lead the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office.

Ryan Merkouris, who lives between Conger and Albert Lea, started his career in 2000 with the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy and since 2007 has been part of the Albert Lea Police Department. He is a patrol officer.

He said he received firsthand experience and an understanding of the challenges ahead while working with the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office. One of his goals as sheriff would be to bring back drug prevention curriculum to area schools.

In a written statement, Merkouris said, “If elected sheriff, I plan to make the safety of the citizens of Freeborn County my No. 1 priority. I will not only listen to the public’s concerns, but take the necessary steps to assure they are addressed.”

He also wrote, “I hope that the voters of Freeborn County see me as not only an investment in the future of the Sheriff’s Office, but as a truthful representative whom you can hold accountable for the promises made and promises to be kept for years to come.”

He said he’s glad there are different people filing for sheriff so voter’s have more options.

“I welcome the other candidates who have come forward,” Merkouris said. “I think it’s good for voters of Freeborn County to have more options.”

Freeborn County commissioners

Dan Belshan, a rural Glenville resident, has filed for re-election and is without an opponent. Belshan represents the 2nd Commissioner District.

“I have the energy and time to address issues in a professional manner with researched facts and creative ideas for operating the county responsibly and openly,” Belshan said. “It’s been an honor to serve the people, and hopefully, they’ll want me to continue to be their voice on the county board.”

In the 4th Commissioner District, Albert Lea resident Christopher Shoff filed for re-election as the 4th district commissioner. He is without a challenger.

Other county races

Many county races are without opponents. Incumbent Craig Nelson filed for re-election as county attorney and incumbent Dennis Distad for auditor-treasurer. Incumbent Kelly Callahan filed for county recorder.

For Freeborn County District Court judges John A. Chesterman and Steve Schwab filed to run for their seats.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts

Two positions are open for Freeborn County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor. District 3 and District 4 are both up for election. Paul R. Heers Jr. has filed to run for supervisor of District 3. Colin Wittmer and Jon Wiersma have filed to run for supervisor of Freeborn County Soil and Water District 4.

Faribault County

Mike Gormley and Dean Vereide filed to run for sheriff. John L. Thompson filed to run for auditor-treasurer. Brian D. Roverud and Troy Timmerman filed for county attorney. Eva Adams, Sherry Asmus and Ken Skarre filed for county recorder. For Soil and Water Conservation District 2 supervisor, Jean Millmann filed; for District 3, Larry Wigern filed; and for District 5, Bill Anderson filed. For 2nd Commissioner District Mike Mensing, Milton Steele, Al Travis Thielfoldt and Greg Young filed. For 4th Commissioner District, Tom H. Loveall and Rob Nelson filed.

Steele County

Milo Dahlin, Rick Ellingson, Troy Matejcek and Lon Thiele filed to run for sheriff. Laura Ihrke filed for auditor, and Daniel McIntosh filed for attorney. No one has filed for county recorder. John Hosfield filed for surveyor, and Steven Rohlik filed for treasurer. For 1st Commissioner District Bruce Kubicek has filed, for 3rd Commissioner District Mark Schultz and Rick Gnemi have filed and for 5th Commissioner District Tom Shea and Les Abraham have filed.

Waseca County

Brad Milrath has filed to run for sheriff. Joyce Oliver filed for auditor-treasurer and Paul Dressler filed for attorney. For 3rd Commissioner District, Rick Morris filed. For 4th Commissioner District, Richard Androli, Thomas Davison and Nancy Prehn filed. For 5th Commissioner District Dan Kuhns and Dan Malecha filed. For Soil and Water Conservation supervisor Roger Drager filed for District 2 and Jurgen Peters filed for District 3.

The date if the primary election in Minnesota is Aug. 10. The general election is Nov. 2.

Iowa county races

Filings are completed for Worth and Winnebago counties in Iowa.

In Worth County for the 1st District supervisor Dave Prestholt, R, is running against incumbent Dennis May, D. For 3rd District supervisor Lois Colleen Lawler, R, is running against incumbent Jeffrey L. Creger, D. Jake Hanson, R, is running for treasurer, Liz Kenison, R, for recorder and Jeff H. Greve, R, for attorney.

In Winnebago County for the 1st District supervisor, Gloria Johnson, R, and Terry Durby, R, are competing against each other with no Democrat filing. For 3rd District supervisor, Stacy Willert, R, will run against incumbent Warren Willie Wubben, D. Kristin Colby, R, is running for recorder, Julie Swenson, R, for treasurer and Karla Niederkofler, no party, is running to fill a vacancy for auditor.