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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Movement Afoot to Draft Walburg for Lake County Sheriff

Two candidates have filed to run for Lake County Sheriff: incumbent Roger Hartman and Madison policeman Dan Wyatt. At the moment, 104 Facebook users want a third choice: Lake County deputy Tim Walburg. Walburg's supporters have set up this public Facebook page to urge their man to run. Among folks rooting for a three-way (assuming we trust the identity behind all Facebook accounts concerned) are some notable non-residents of Lake County:
  1. Moody County Sheriff Troy Wellman: "I am the Sheriff in Moody County and am fully ADAMANT THAT TIM WOULD BE THE BEST MAN FOR THE JOB!!!!!!!!!!!! I have nothing agianst Roger or Dan just think that Tim should be the one that you mark for your choice on Novemeber 2nd." Now how often do you hear law enforcement officials making that public of an endorsement in other jurisdictions' races?
  2. Sandy Mechels, mother of slain police Turner County deputy Chad Mechels, who also served as a Lake County deputy.
  3. Patricia and Jay Stricherz (on the "Like" list)
...in addition to a lot of local folks, all checking the "Like" box in just the last couple days.

So the question for folks in this draft movement: what motivates their desire for a third choice? The question for Deputy Walburg: will he answer the call of his supporters and make the sheriff's race even more interesting? And the question for Lake County political junkies (all... what, six of us?): would two independent candidates split the apparent anti-incumbent fervor and ensure four more years of Hartman's Law?

Reminder: Independent petitions for Lake County sheriff require 54 signatures. County Auditor Kay Schmidt must receive said petitions by June 8.


  1. I always thought it was ridiculous that the sheriff's race was a partisan race and that you had to have primaries. Personally, I wouldn't care if the head law enforcemnt officer for Lake County was a Rep or Dem or a Lib... just as long as they did the job.

    Could we PLEASE change the law and make this a non-partisan position?

  2. Over the years, laws have been enacted in SD that limit those who can run and which allow sheriffs to protect their seats by firing their deputy sheriffs that run against them. Many sheriffs believe it is their right to do so. Case in point is in our own Hanson County where our deputy answered the call from the community and then was fired for getting signatures on his petition in his off duty time. Current laws need to be reevaluated and corrected so that qualified law enforcement officers are allowed to exercise their right to run for office.

  3. I agree with Jackrabbit1 It would be nice if we could take politics out of law enforcement altogether. A sheriff and a deputy having to run a political campaign against each other at the same time they work together doesn't seem like a good thing to me.

  4. I'd love to see this position, and maybe all offices from county level on down, made non-partisan. And I wonder: why do we elect the sheriff when we don't elect the city police chief?

    Stace, which laws do you refer to? I'd love to see those laws... and change them! Limiting the pool of candidates is rarely good.

    While I remain agnostic on who ought to be sheriff, I think a depity should have every right to run for sheriff -- and, all other things being equal, who else is a more logical choice in any given community to become sheriff than a deputy who is familiar with the system and would like a promotion from the public? If nothing else, it's a good test of character to see co-workers campaign for the same job: they need to show they can have a vigorous campaign, maybe even disagree on certain issues, yet keep it clean and continue on the job to put the public welfare first.

  5. Cory , The problem as I see it, with a sheriff and deputy running against each other, is that it is not just 2 coworkers who vie for the same job, but rather one coworker saying to the other, I am going to try to take your job from you and you wont have a job anymore.One would think that this would have a detrimental effect on the trust between the two,and trust is a pretty big deal in law enforcement. Also wouldn't it put limits on the Sheriffs ability to discipline, if all the deputy had to do is get the required 54 signatures to avoid it.
    Just some of my thoughts.

    I would be interested to here from Stace about the laws too.

  6. I agree with this position not being on a partyline. I also think that other residents in public office out side of our county should not be involved in our county elections.
    As fot Tim Walburg I would not suport him to be chief deputy much less sheriff based on my families personal dealings with him.
    He has went out of his way to help his freind and the family of a indited child molester and rapeist. While lending his personal help and support he also neglected the victoms and the victoms family failed to do follow up calls etc.

    My name is Chris Heist of chester and I will support Rodger for sheriff.

    I left a comment on the face book page on the like post only because I could not find the dislike page

  7. Barry, I agree that a deputy and sheriff running for the same job poses a human relations challenge. But I'd hate to make a rule (statute or professional code of ethics) that excludes deputies from running for higher office. A campaign might cause office friction... but it might also be the only way for a deputy to remove office friction caused by a bad sheriff.

    On discipline, yes, that's another complication. It thus behooves the sheriff to document everything... and behooves the deputy not to give the sheriff an excuse to file a demerit or fire the deputy.

    Chris, I can sympathize. you're probably not the only person who's had bad interaction with a law enforcement official. But I wonder: I hear the word "indicted"... will that be followed by the word "convicted"? And even if it is, does that have any reflection on the innocence and rights of people associated with the alleged criminal?

  8. Here is the Law that Stace was referring to I assume. It appears from this law that a Sheriff can fire a deputy for any reason he sees fit, The same as any private employer in South Dakota.

  9. Summary termination -- another expression of South Dakota's "right to work" philosophy. ;-)

    I also notice in SDCL 7-12-15 that, for a job where a guy can get shot, sheriff pay stinks.

  10. "Right to work" now theres a misnomer for you.
    With the right to work law comes not only the right to terminate for any reason, but also the right for the employee to quit for any reason. It makes me wonder then if a deputy would have the right to quit at anytime. Say right when a crime was being committed or in the middle of an emergency?

  11. Thanks Cory
    The next court date is in May and once the incompetency part is decided (two years later ) we might finally get to let a jury decied.
    I would gladly pass the date on to you. It might be of intest as you know the person I am refering to

    As far as most of the law enforcement in Lake and Moody I have had good interaction with all of them other than Tim Walburg.
    This is possibly the only flaw he has. When it comes to past freindships but that seems to be one of our bigest problems in politics today.

  12. Cory,
    Sorry, was out in CA testifying on a case I worked before I retired. Old days any old fella could run for sheriff. Not any more and specific law says sheriff can fire deputy for anything. I agree with what you said...


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