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League of Women Voters hosts first of three Q and A sessions

(Top row, from left) Stephen O'Keefe, Marty Kelly and Paul Gielau. (Bottom row, from left) Lori Ann Clark and Barb Haley.

Sheriff and attorney

On Thursday, Sept. 27, the Red Wing League of Women Voters hosted two question-and-answer sessions for local offices. The first session was for candidates running for county sheriff and county attorney. The second was for candidates running for Minnesota House District 21A.

Marty Kelly and Paul Gielau are running for Goodhue County sheriff and Steve O'Keefe is running for Goodhue County attorney.

The three candidates were asked questions about recent "hot button" issues. For example, one citizen asked their opinion on what the county's relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be.

Kelly stated, "we have to follow the law, the rule of the law. If the federal government wants us to enforce one of their laws, I think that we're obligated to do so." Kelly went on to explain that at the moment, the county does not detain people for ICE. He believes that that needs to be looked at again. He does not yet have a solid opinion on the policy.

Gielau said on the topic, "Most of the sheriffs in Minnesota do not honor ICE detainers if that is solely the purpose of having a person put in our jail. If there is a person in our jail that has criminal charges and then ICE puts a detainer on them, that's a different deal and we hold them on the criminal charges."

The candidates were also asked questions that were focused on Goodhue County. One anonymous person in the audience wanted to know what the main issues facing the sheriff's and attorney's offices are.

Kelly stated that it is communication with staff and citizens as a whole. He also pointed to the need to give officers proper training and resources:

"We have to take care of the people who take care of us. We need to give them the tools, the training, the support that they need to be able to be effective in their job. If they're not effective in their job, they're not helping anyone out here."

Gielau said, "Our office runs very effectively. We do have communication with our employees, we have meetings when we think they're needed. I also value employees time off. ... so we may not hold as many formal meetings, but we discuss a lot of things through email." Gielau also stressed that the office needs to continue to maintain officers' health — physical and mental.

O'Keefe said that for the attorney's office, public safety is the main issue:

"Overall, in the big picture, the number one issue facing the county's attorney office always has to be public safety and how we support our law enforcement partners and keeping the public safe. Smaller than that, and something I alluded to before, and that's our issue facing drug addiction and drug abuse in our community."

O'Keefe also mentioned the increasing caseload in the county attorney's office.

District 21A

Lori Ann Clark and Barb Haley are running for the Minnesota House in District 21A. Haley is the incumbent and has served in the Minnesota House for two years.

The majority of the questions that the candidates were asked were about statewide or national issues, like providing affordable medical insurance for everyone in the state, their positions on climate change and their views on sanctuary cities.

When asked about their opinions on gun control, the candidates answered along party lines. Haley stated, "We have a Second Amendment in this country and I support the Second Amendment."

Clark stated that 80 percent of Minnesotans want some kind of gun control but no action has been taken.

"That was a real lost opportunity for the Republicans this year," said Clark.

Sheriff candidates will meet for another debate at noon Tuesday, Oct. 16. The Red Wing Rotary Club and the Red Wing Noontime Kiwanis will host the two candidates at the St. James Hotel.

The next question-and-answer session hosted by the Red Wing League of Women Voters will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5. Residents can ask candidates for Red Wing City Council questions.

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