Voters will decide between two men in the race for the Wright County Sheriff on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4.
Joe Hagerty is the county’s incumbent sheriff, and has served in the Wright County Sheriff’s Office for more than two decades. He’s a lifelong resident of St. Michael, and served on the St. Michael City Council. Hagerty’s page on the county website is here.
Braun is a 36-year resident of Wright County and has served in law enforcement over the past two decades as well, currently as a deputy with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office. He is an Otsego resident. More information on Braun’s campaign can be found on his website and via Facebook.
Here’s a quick Q and A with the two candidates:
Why are you running for Wright County Sheriff:
Braun: First and foremost, I am committed to public safety and service. I want the tax payers to receive a good return on their investment and Wright County to be a safe community for all of us to live and work.
Originally I thought I would just throw my name in the hat for name recognition, after talking to Sheriff Hagerty. I know Joe is well liked in the area and he told me he was going to work one more full term. Having lived in Wright County for the last 36 years, I know Sheriff Hagerty well and didn’t think twice about it. During my primary campaign, I was alarmed at some of the things that I learned. It was then my focus changed. So after being given the honor to make the ballot after the primary, I knew I needed to run a good hard race for the residents, business owners and the deputies. I had the pleasure of having a local resident, Jeanne Holland, come forward and lead my campaign. Jeanne is my connection to the deputies and the community.
The Wright County Sheriff’s Department has room for improvement. Other agencies require training that our department currently doesn’t. The citizens of Wright County have expectations of their public safety department that some personnel are not trained to fulfill. Community policing doesn’t work if the deputies you know and trust are not trained for the situations they encounter. I will make sure all personnel are trained and equipped to fully serve you using current, cutting edge public safety and law enforcement techniques and training.
The Wright County Sheriff’s Department does not provide emergency first aid or CPR certification to deputies. Our Sheriff’s Department does not provide training or equipment to handle people living with mental illness. Our Sheriff’s Department does not provide training or equipment to handle active shooter situations. As Sheriff, securing this training and equipment, within budget, will be a top priority for me.
Wright County will benefit from my fresh perspective and experience at a progressive public safety agency. As Sheriff, I will bring new resources to the department. I hope to bring our Sheriff’s Department up to the standards of our neighbors. We cannot pretend we are not a metro county anymore. The Wright County Sheriff’s Department is the third largest sheriff’s department in the state with the largest patrol division of all 87 Minnesota sheriff’s departments.
Having been in law enforcement of over two decades, I am a peace officer and not a politician.
Hagerty: I am running for Sheriff because I am passionate about providing public safety services to our residents. In my position, I have an opportunity to do a lot of good for a lot of people which I enjoy. I also enjoy forging partnerships with the communities we serve, which contributes to the quality of life our residents expect and enjoy.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for the Wright County Sheriff’s Office over the next term?
Hagerty: There are many constant challenges in public safety, however combating the ever changing world of illegal drug use and its related crimes is a priority for our office. We will continue our proactive enforcement and education efforts in fighting the war on drugs.
Braun: Narcotics enforcement. Drug manufacturers and drug dealers have no place in our community; I will make sure they hear that message loud and clear. My background in narcotics will help me get offenders arrested and make sure illegal and illicit drugs do not get into the hands of our youth. Drug manufacturers and sellers need to be held accountable for their actions. I will work to remove that element from our community. I would also implement a drug take back program so that the abuse of prescription drugs is eliminated.
It is a painful reality, but people living with mental illness are increasingly impacting our community. It is imperative that law enforcement officers learn how to interact with, and try to understand, citizens living with mental illness. Mental health issues increase the risk of drug or alcohol abuse. There is a plethora of training, tools and equipment that can be used. For example, conducted energy devices (Tasers). The deputies working the street do not all have access to this less lethal option and they should. I feel so strongly about that, I have pledged to donate the money for five of these out of my own pocket and will strongly ask the county commissioners to use that money to be used specifically for that purchase so the deputies might have the opportunity to end a mental health crisis safely.