Stanek staking out public safety position

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rich Stanek has a complicated political history.

He was elected to the Minnesota House five times, representing the Maple Grove area, before being appointed Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner in 2003. He resigned a few months later after allegations he used a racial slur in a deposition he gave as a Minneapolis Police officer. Just two years later, he was elected Hennepin County Sheriff and later re-elected twice. Now he’s seeking the highest state office in Minnesota.

As you’d probably guess, public safety will be one of his prime issues to focus on. He says he’s not surprised by two recent reports heaping criticism on Minneapolis officials and state leaders. 

“I think these two reports are absolutely consistent with what Minnesotans saw, what law enforcement felt,” Stanek said, adding, “what business leaders in the community also felt during three days of civil unrest which led to riots. Just an epic failure of leadership from the governor on down.”

Stanek will appear on “At Issue with Tom Hauser” this Sunday in our final interview with the seven Republican gubernatorial candidates.

RELATED: Former Hennepin County sheriff Stanek announces gubernatorial campaign

He dismisses the explanations from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Gov. Tim Walz, and other state leaders who say the unrest and riots in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd were so massive they were difficult to control.

“We’ve had much experience over the years in dealing with protests, civil unrest, and riots,” Stanek said. “I think Commissioner Harrington said it appropriately when he admitted that they waited too long to engage. Too long to activate National Guard troops.”

Stanek also weighs in on the $9.25 billion budget surplus. He says nearly all of it should go back to taxpayers. “We can do a combination of direct payments back to Minnesotans, but also through permanent sustained tax cuts.”

On other issues, Stanek says he would likely sign a sports betting bill into law if he were governor but would not support legalizing recreational marijuana.

“I will not sign recreational marijuana, which is a gateway drug for many young people leading to further addiction and crime and harm in our communities,” he said.

You can see the entire interview with Stanek Sunday morning at 10 a.m. on “At Issue with Tom Hauser.”