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Monday, April 5, 2010

Republican Dan Wyatt Runs for Sheriff as Independent

While checking the Secretary of State's candidate list for third-party candidates, I did find one of the few Independents filed right here in Lake County. Then an eager reader forwarded me his website: Dan Wyatt for Lake County Sheriff.

Dan Wyatt, Madison SD Patrolman, candidate for Lake County SheriffOfficer Dan Wyatt, candidate for Lake County Sheriff
Wyatt, currently a patrolman for the Madison Police Department, identifies himself as a Republican, a Christian Conservative, and a member of the local 9-12 Glenn Beck fan club. I get a little itchy when I hear any political candidate touting his piety. More importantly, given that the 9-12ers support nullification and secession, I will need to hear Dan affirm that as a law enforcement officer he will reject Calhoun conservatism and recognize the primacy of federal law over state law.

But why would this Republican run as an Independent? Wyatt likely wants to broaden the electorate and avoid what happened last time he challenged incumbent Roger Hartman for the job. In 2006, Wyatt ran as a Republican and was defeated by Hartman in the Republican primary. Since no Democrat filed for the job, the Republicans had sole say on who became sheriff. This disenfranchisement of local Democrats and Independents bothered a lot of people. It certainly made me see the harm in not designating sheriff and perhaps other local government positions as non-partisan.

Instead of once again allowing just 45% of the Lake County electorate pick the sheriff, Wyatt has more than doubled the number of people who get to vote on our county's top cop, just by filing as an Independent.

That desire for more public participation also figures in Wyatt's campaign promises for a new style of sheriffing:

My campaign is simply one of positive change in the way the Sheriff’s office conducts business... I will be a visible, out in the public eye, working Sheriff. You will see me out in the communities of Lake County. I will seek your input, your suggestions and you can always expect a honest answer if you have a question. I ask that you invite me to your organizational meetings, your township meetings and if you want contact me, we can set something up [Dan Wyatt, campaign website].

Wyatt also appears ready to throw punches in this local race:

Currently the office is held by an incumbent who has lost his ambition to do all that he can for the office and the residents of Lake County. He has publically stated twice before that he was not seeking the Sheriff office again... and then changed his mind.. I point this out because sometimes the old way of doing business is not always the best way. This is especially true in the business of Law Enforcement. It is time for a change [Dan Wyatt, campaign website].

Looks like we're in for an interesting discussion of the future of law enforcement in Lake County... a conversation that, this time around, will last to November and involve all Lake County voters.


  1. Cory,

    You should do one of you online forums on this election.

    I have some real good questions that need to be asked.

  2. Yeah, having a political position is totally unnecessary for this job. Same for County Auditor and such. We want to know a person's qualifications for the job. Period. Saying "My political view is simple, I am a Christian Conservative" is not relevant, yet he must think so by including it. We don't need those injections.

  3. It will be interesting to see if the retire/rehire issue will be a factor for Roger Hartman vs. Dan Wyatt in the sheriff's race. It has been a topic of conversation at the school district level with Supt. Schaefer resigning in December to collect retirement benefits, then being rehired at full salary in January. Actually, we may be surprised to learn that many current county employees are now receiving state retirement benefits while collecting their full salary. Can a person retire financially and perhaps emotionally, and still have a passion for the job they do?

  4. Michael Black4/06/2010 6:32 AM

    Rod, are you saying that once a person starts collecting retirement that they cannot be hired again?

    I see people over 65 working every day yet they collect social security.

    Isn't that the same thing?

  5. Mike: Social security income typically isn't enough to survive on. It is considered a supplement to your retirement income, so that's why you see folks still working while collecting federal supplemental income. Some people just enjoy staying busy in a work environment.

    I'm not being critical of the retire/rehire process, although it's been a hot topic lately. I have always wondered what effect collecting early retirement benefits has on the emotional side of a person's desire to perform in their job, should they decide to continue working.

    I don't know if Roger Hartman is collecting social security yet, but he probably collects state retirement, military retirement and current salary. My only question is, "does that added retirement income affect desire and performance" in any job?

  6. Mark, as we head for November, expect all sorts of opportunities for citizen input and questions to candidates. Yahoo!

  7. Rod, your question is valid. I have no firm answer, especially since I have had no interaction with the sheriff, but Wyatt's comments on his website certainly seem to suggest he feels the sheriff is not as engaged with the public as he could be.

  8. [I'm fielding a few anonymi, so we may need a reminder: I'm happy to host an honest conversation about the sheriff's race, but if you're going to participate and talk either candidate up or down, you need to put your name to your words. If it's worth saying, it's worth owning.]


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