Kelly: Helping citizens
We asked Goodhue County Sheriff candidates Paul Gielau and Marty Kelly to weigh in on topics such as school safety, community relations and the county jail.
What compelled you to run for public office and what experience and talents would you bring?
I ran for office because I want to make a difference for our staff and our citizens. My entire career has revolved around helping citizens and this is where my passion is and what I do best. In this campaign I have met many people and heard the changes they want for our community and believe I can facilitate change.
I have 30 years of law enforcement experience with the past nine as a patrol supervisor. During my career I have served in a variety of assignments including school resource officer, field training officer and supervisor, member of the SWAT team, bike patrol supervisor and a medical examiner investigator for eight years. I earned a bachelor's degree in law enforcement with a minor in psychology from Minnesota State - Mankato and I have attended several leadership trainings.
My education, training and real world experience has given me the qualifications necessary to be your next sheriff.
Given tensions between citizens and law enforcement across the country, how would you strengthen the relationships between local residents and the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office?
One of the biggest ways we can strengthen the relationships between residents and the sheriff's department is community involvement. By being out at town hall meetings, city council meetings, events and city festivals it gives people a chance to interact and connect with us on a personal level. Working with communities to promote social gatherings where residents can talk with the deputies face to face so that we are able to build trust. Community policing is a priority for me and I want our citizens to know who their deputies are.
Another way to strengthen relationships is by using social media. We can use social media to inform residents of situations or events and we can also use it to seek tips and assist in solving criminal cases or apprehending individuals. It also allows residents to ask questions and get a timely answer. Social media can enhance transparency which is very important to have.
What is the department's role and responsibility in keeping schools safe?
I think it is everyone's responsibility to keep our children safe and every child should be able to feel safe while they are at school! We all need to be aware of hazards and threats and be able to speak up when we see something suspicious. Being available and visible in our schools will provide a sense of security for our children.
As a sheriff's department, we should be a resource to all the schools and communities in our county and assist them with their safety plans. We need to all work together to prepare and train for critical incidents or active shooter situations. We should be including the school districts in active shooter trainings, so they understand how we train for these situations and how they can assist us. Nobody can ever be prepared enough when a tragedy strikes but the more we prepare and practice, the more we learn and the better we become.
What problem or issue in the county are you passionate about addressing and how would you do so?
Issues that are affecting the county are mental health and drug use. These two issues often go hand in hand. According to the Journal of American Medical Association over 50 percent of people suffering from a mental health condition also have a substance abuse problem. Oftentimes, individuals with untreated mental illness self-medicate with illegal drugs.
It is imperative that the sheriff department aid in the implementation of a drug court in Goodhue County. I will work with the county attorney, health and human services, probation and treatment providers to assist in getting the resources needed to treat the citizens of Goodhue County. I would form a mental health team where trained deputies follow up on all mental health calls and work close with social workers to assure residents are getting the services or assistance that is needed. It is necessary to approach both of these issues in a multidisciplinary approach.
With problems at prisons in Stillwater and elsewhere, do you have any ideas to make the Goodhue County ADC better and safer for staff and prisoners?
Safety and security is always our No. 1 priority in our jail setting and the goal is that staff goes home every day unharmed. Providing the tools, equipment and training needed is the best way to improve security.
Jail staff turnover is increasingly high. It is difficult to keep our jail fully staffed with this high rate of turn over. Being understaffed is a safety concern for our staff and inmates. Training new deputies is time consuming and costly. I will work with the ADC staff to identify areas of concern and work to improve this.
I ran for sheriff because I believe strongly that the people serving our county in our jails and on our streets need to be supported and provided the tools and resources to do a very difficult job day in and day out whether that be in the jail or on the streets.