MENOMONIE — Dunn County has Democratic and Republican primaries for sheriff on Tuesday as five candidates are vying to replace longtime Sheriff Dennis Smith, who is not seeking re-election.
Seeking the position are Democrats Rodney J. Dicus and Randy Knaack, while Republicans Adam W. Zukowski, Jacob T. Ohman and Kevin Bygd also are running. The top vote-getters in each primary will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
Dicus is touting his 32 years of law enforcement experience he said demonstrates dedication to the profession.
Knaack said he is experienced in every aspect of business and politics. He said he has gained this experience through dealing with budgets as the current mayor of Menomonie and by managing a small business for the past 38 years.
“I will owe no favors, and I am the only one with a plan to deal with the meth epidemic,” he said.
Dicus wants residents to vote for him because he said he will be the most community-involved sheriff the citizens of Dunn County will ever elect.
“I will work as hard as I can to collaborate with all the agencies of Dunn County to keep the citizens safe and make it a great place to live and raise a family,” Dicus said.
According to Knaack, the sheriff position is an administrative and political position, which he states he has had more experience with than any of the other candidates.
“I can get new policies and procedures implemented because I have amazing political connections in Madison. I think it’s time for a change and not be a part of the good old boys club,” he said.
Dicus said he would support the next elected sheriff.
“We need to support each other and work together in order to have a successful department,” he said.
Knaack said Dicus is a nice guy but added that his major contribution at the sheriff’s office is a concentration in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program.
“I hope whoever is the next sheriff will be able to implement new policies and procedures to put Dunn County on the map,” he said.
Bygd has a 29-year career with Dunn County, and he said 13 of those years were spent working with current Sheriff Dennis Smith in a supervisory/management role. As a result, he has experience with budgetary, promotional and termination, and high liability decisions.
“I have 13 years of management and supervision experience that can’t be learned overnight, and I don’t want to see Dunn County citizens suffer any loss of the quality service that I believe they are used to seeing from us,” he said.
Bygd said he has worked in jail/dispatch, as a patrol deputy, civil process deputy, patrol sergeant and now as captain. In the sheriff’s absence, he fills in for him in meetings and in making decisions that impact the safety and security of the community and schools.
Bygd said that he believes the sheriff position should be nonpartisan.
“I believe the most qualified person in the general election should be elected sheriff,” he said.
Ohman is the only Republican candidate without a law enforcement background. He said it brings a fresh perspective to the department. He mentions he wants to address the meth issue, the budget, and bring law enforcement closer to the public.
Ohman said he has the best experience that relates to the most people in Dunn County.
“Of the last 10 years, I spent five punching a clock and working like everyone else, three plus as a manager, and nearly two as a small-business owner,” he said.
Ohman stated he is the best Republican candidate for the role.
“I personally believe that if I don’t emerge from the primary successfully the next best candidate is in the Democratic party,” he said.
Zukowski said he has a diverse background and experience in employment and training. This includes more than 15 years as a Dunn County sheriff’s deputy and nearly six years as a Wyoming Highway Patrol state trooper.
If elected, Zukowski said, he has plans to take care of all county employees.
“I am always looking for ways to give back to the community through volunteering, leading and being active in community and school programs such as 4-H, Science Olympiad and our church,” he said.
In regard to the candidates’ background, Zukowski said his training and employment with Dunn County and other law enforcement agencies outside Dunn County has enabled him to gain a broader set of management and leadership skills.
Asked if he would support the primary winner, Zukowski said he can’t say for certain.
“I have been concerned with some of the language and wording used and the lack of experience in this field of work,” he said. “I would need to seek clarification prior to making any commitments to any one candidate.”
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