Dakota County Corrections head files as candidate for Hennepin County sheriff

A new candidate has entered the race for Hennepin County sheriff.

Suwana Kirkland, the head of the Dakota County Community Corrections Department, announced Wednesday she is running for Hennepin County’s top law enforcement position. Before her position in Dakota County, she served with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.

She will go head-to-head with incumbent Sheriff David Hutchinson and fellow challenger Jai Hanson, a veteran of the Lakeville and Bloomington police departments.

Hutchinson has come under intense scrutiny over the past month after he drove drunk and crashed a county-owned vehicle on the way back from a sheriffs’ conference in Alexandria. A blood sample taken while he was in the hospital revealed his blood-alcohol level was 0.13 — well over the legal limit in Minnesota.

Hutchinson has since pleaded guilty to fourth-degree driving while intoxicated. He was sentenced to two years of probation and was ordered to pay $610 in fines and court fees. Two other DWI charges were dismissed, and a charge for illegally possessing a firearm while intoxicated has been continued for dismissal at a later date.