Outgoing Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek addresses election defeat, transition

December 19, 2018 10:11 AM

Jan. 7, 2019 at 1 p.m. 

That is the day a new sheriff will assume office for Hennepin County, the state's largest county with 1.3 million people.


Current Sheriff Rich Stanek had been seeking re-election to a fourth term. He was first elected in 2006. But election day last month abruptly ended that effort. Stanek, a seasoned politician, has served 35 years as a state lawmaker, Commissioner of Public Safety and Captain with the Minneapolis Police Department. 

In an astonishing upset, Stanek was narrowly defeated by a little-known candidate, Dave "Hutch" Hutchinson, with Metro Transit Police.  The margin was 2,340 votes out of nearly 530,000 cast. For the first time since that upset, Stanek addressed why he thinks he didn't prevail to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

"I think it's as simple as the Democratic process, the voters get to decide who they want as their sheriff, if they were looking for change they now have that," he said. "There are 45 cities in this county and I won 44 of the 45 cities so theoretically it doesn't make much sense, but the core of Minneapolis had a huge voter turnout and I respect that."

As Stanek faces what's ahead, Tuesday in his corner office of City Hall, he reflected on what's been accomplished during his twelve years.

"Promises made were promises delivered, like working every day to solve violent crime, guns, gangs and drugs," Stanek said.

County records show violent crime dropped by nearly 26 percent, workforce diversity doubled from 6 to 17 percent and a third of the workforce is female. Hennepin County deputies were the first in the state to carry Narcan. 

"We've had literally thousands of lives saved by this, which wasn't available to us before 2015," Stanek said.

Last week, Stanek met with his successor to talk transition of the $125 million budget and 1,100 employees. Stanek said the meeting lasted 90 minutes and covered how the jail is run, court security, civil process, serving warrants, patrolling communities, along with public policy and advocacy. 

RELATED: Sheriff Stanek, Sheriff-elect Hutchinson raise concerns over Hennepin County budget

With his days numbered, Stanek offered a parting thought to the incoming administration.

"1.3 million people make up Hennepin County, not one city, not one population base and that's where I think the challenges are to lie moving forward," he said.

Stanek intends to continue public service. He announced he'll serve as vice-chair with the U.S. Department of Commerce where he will help roll out a broadband network for public safety agencies nationwide to carry data, like body-worn cameras. It's a $48 billion, two-year deal. 

Watch the full interview in the video box above.

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Beth McDonough

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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