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Candidate Q&A: Goodhue County Sheriff

Goodhue County Sheriff Scott McNurlin is running unopposed for re-election on Nov. 4.

McNurlin, who started his career with Goodhue County in 1983, was elected sheriff in 2010.

He was asked about his views on a number of crime and safety issues. Here are his responses:

Illegal drug use, including opiates and methamphetamine, has been an issue across the state. How serious is the drug abuse problem in Goodhue County and what can the sheriff’s office do to address it? Unfortunately, the scourge of methamphetamine continues to rear its ugly head in certain segments of our population including our communities within Goodhue County. If there is good news, it can be found in the fact that methamphetamine use has somewhat stabilized and we are seeing fewer new users enter this market. I credit that in part to an active, successful investigative unit and a strong partnership with members of our Southeast Minnesota Drug/Violent Crime Task Force creating strong cases against those who bring this substance to our county.

The use of opiates in the form of heroin or the abuse of opiate based pharmaceuticals remains a concern throughout the state and our Southeast Minnesota Drug Task Force region however we in Goodhue County have not felt the effects to the same level as other communities. We are very fortunate in this regard. Again, I believe the proactive efforts of our investigative unit have played a key role in this issue.

Goodhue County Adult Detention Center in Red Wing takes in money by boarding inmates from other parts of the state. What are the risks of housing these prisoners in the county jail and are they worth the added revenue? From 2001 until the present, the Goodhue County Adult Detention Center has held literally hundreds of detainees for other jurisdictions. In that time, we have earned over $10,000,000 in revenue to help offset the tax burden to Goodhue County citizens for running our Adult Detention Center. As of late, we have entered into a new contract with the state of Minnesota Department of Corrections to hold state prisoners due to overcrowding in the state prison system. We are one of five counties in the state doing so. Our contract with the DOC alone will garner approximately $950,000 in revenue for the fiscal year of 2015. That revenue is vitally important in Goodhue County’s budget for 2015 in an effort to help keep our tax levy low.

As you may know, we are licensed and inspected by representatives from the DOC, and we are licensed, staffed and equipped to hold the detainees we receive from the state or any other jurisdiction. The detainees we receive from the state are classified as “medium risk” offenders regardless of their crime. Many of our own Goodhue County detainees are classified as medium risk offenders. The state boarded detainees will not be released in the community and they are not eligible for Sentence to Service or any other release program. We have experienced a very good working relationship with representatives from the DOC concerning this contract.

At this time, the revenue generated by our boarding contracts is vitally important to the Goodhue County budgeting process. Should we have difficulties with detainee boards from any of our boarding contracts, we retain the right to cancel the contract at any time we believe the risks to our citizens are outweighed by the benefits.

The Office of Emergency Management falls under the sheriff’s office. How prepared is the county for natural and manmade disasters and what else can be done to protect residents? I am proud to say our Office of Emergency Management is the best or one of the best in the state, and I do not make that claim without credence. Our Emergency Management Director Diane Richter-Biwer and Red Wing’s Emergency Management Director Roger Hand have received several awards, accolades and recognition from representatives at the federal and state level for how we have performed in nuclear drills and exercises associated with the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant and for our technologically advanced Emergency Operation Center. We are fortunate in the respect that our association with the nuclear plant requires us to hold emergency preparedness drills and exercises regularly which keep us sharp for handling a variety of natural and other manmade disasters that could come our way.

Our Office of Emergency Management continues to evolve. We have recently met with state officials and representatives from the rail industry concerning the transportation of crude oil through our communities. We have done so to keep pace with this emerging trend and to better educate and prepare ourselves for any additional emergency management challenges this new industry could present.

Name: Scott McNurlin

Age: 53

Address: 14160 County 9 Blvd. Goodhue, MN

Occupation: Goodhue County Sheriff

Education: Graduate from the Red Wing Central High School; Associate in Science – law enforcement from Inver Hills Community College, Inver Hills, Minnesota; certificate – human resources from Hamline University, St. Paul; bachelor’s degree – individualized degree plan criminal justice & psychology from Metropolitan University, St. Paul; master’s degree – law enforcement leadership, administration, and education from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul; Graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy, Quantico, Virginia

Family: Wife Eileen and daughter Amy Jo

Civic involvement: Past president and current member of the Red Wing Rotary Club; current member of the Goodhue Lions; current board secretary of the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha, and Pierce Counties; current board member of the Chemical Health Initiative of Goodhue County; past chair and current board member of the Goodhue County Family Services Collaborative; vice chair and current board member of the Sexual Assault Resource Agency of Goodhue and Wabasha Counties; past president and former board member of Red Wing YMCA

Adjunct professor – Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

(651) 301-7875
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