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Stehr: Support staff, try new things

Josh Stehr

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of Q&As highlighting Goodhue County sheriff candidates. Read about the other candidates here.   

Josh Stehr 

Age: 43

Address: 34998 County 5 Blvd., Lake City

Campaign online:

Education: Inver Hills Community College/Minneapolis Community College/Center for Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement. 1996 Associate Degree in Applied Science – law enforcement; attending Concordia University in St. Paul pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in leadership and management; attending Bemidji State University in Minnesota pursuing a Bachelor of Science in law enforcement with an emphasis in tribal relations and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship.

Family: Wife, Jen of 20 years; children ages 9 and 11.

Occupation: Goodhue County Sheriff's Office for 19 years. Started in old jail in 1999, made the transition to the new jail, was hired as a patrol deputy and since then have worked road patrol, in the civil/transport/bailiff division, as a School Resource Officer for the Pine Island Schools, as a SWAT team member and have been part of the Project Lifesaver. 

Community involvement: Shop with a Cop, “Senior” proms at the Potter Ridge Assisted Living facility in Red Wing, school board member and vice president at a local area school.


What are some of your major objectives for the Sheriff's Office?

I will be a working sheriff. In other words, I will be backing up my deputies and taking calls for service, working in dispatch, working in the jail, with records, in the courts, transporting detainees and serving papers ... to keep up on my skills and to gain new ones and so that I know from experience and directly from my staff what works and what doesn't and what tools and training we need to do our jobs more safely, effectively and efficiently.

To make us a family again. For all of us to appreciate and understand the importance each person and each area of the office has to achieve the goals of the office and to serve the citizens of Goodhue County. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 and you will understand my philosophy about one group or person thinking they are more important than the others in an organization.

My wife wants to organize summer picnics for all office members and their families so we can all get to know each other and better understand why we do what we do. I will have a real open-door policy to both the public and staff. To be fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars. To be accountable and transparent. And finally, stealing a slogan from President Trump, "to make the office great again!"

What are the biggest issues facing Goodhue County law enforcement today and how would you manage them?

Law enforcement officers in the United States have roughly the same PTSD rate as active military personnel — about one in five. The nature of the work puts you in situations where your life is on the line and people want to do you harm. You also see many horrible things, are exposed to people when they are at their worst and are made fully aware of the evil that is in this world.

The suicide rate for law enforcement officers is four to five times that of the general population. This is unacceptable. I and my administration will not unnecessarily be part of the stress my deputies have in their lives. I will support them and their families through good times and times of crisis.

Mainstream media and sometimes even administrators either carelessly or intentionally make statements or use words that insinuate wrongdoing on the part of the officers after critical incidents before all the facts are out. In recent years some leftist politicians and the liberal media have intentionally tried to cause a divide between law enforcement and the communities they serve. I will do what I can to help mend these relationships and to try to get the media and politicians to understand the consequences the words they choose to use can have.

In what ways are you prepared to deal with the tough financial decisions that face the Sheriff's Office today?

One should not spend money where it is not necessary or where the benefit does not outweigh the cost. One should also not be afraid to try new ways of doing things and spending money where it needs to be spent.

I would encourage all staff to come up with ways that we can do things more cost effectively and efficiently and reward ideas that are implemented. I would work with the County Board toward mutual goals of serving the community and being responsible with taxpayers dollars and not demonize commissioners for doing their job.

I would work with other governmental agencies as much as possible to get personnel high quality training at low or no cost, such as through the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.

I generally don't like how government budgets work and how savings are discouraged because of the "use it or lose it" mentality. This type of budgeting makes it difficult for administrators to try cost-saving measures for fear that funding may be cut permanently for a position or program.

If elected, I will request to be compensated at the sheriff's minimum wage set by the County Board for the four years of my term. This wage is in the low $90,000s; the current Sheriff's wage is around $145,000 per year. This should save the taxpayers about $200,000 over the next four years.