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Sheriff Candidate's View: Experience, integrity vital in St. Louis County's next sheriff

ABOUT THIS PRIMARY: St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman is stepping down after 20 years and five terms. Three candidates are running to replace him: Jason Lukovsky, Gordon Ramsay, and Chad Walsh. Two of them will advance from the Aug. 9 primary to Election Day on Nov. 8. Early voting has already begun.

Jason Lukovsky
St. Louis County Undersheriff Jason Lukovsky.
Contributed photo
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This fall, for the first time in two decades, St. Louis County residents will elect a new sheriff. That’s because Ross Litman, who has led the sheriff’s office since 2003, is retiring. I am working to earn your vote to succeed him.

Before I describe my experience and priorities, I realize you may not be familiar with me. So let me begin with an introduction. I’m a lifelong resident of St. Louis County, graduating from Duluth Denfeld and the University of Minnesota Duluth. My wife of 23 years, Tami, is a longtime public-school teacher. We have two teenage children and live in Fredenberg Township, just north of Duluth.

The primary is Aug. 9. Election Day is Nov. 8. Early voting has already begun.

I am currently the county’s undersheriff, meaning second in command to Sheriff Litman. Prior to that, I was a uniform deputy, criminal investigator, sergeant, lieutenant, and supervising deputy, in roles that ranged from being a sniper on the Emergency Response Team to overseeing operations in the Court Services and 911 Communications divisions.

It’s well known that St. Louis County, covering 7,092 square miles, is the largest county in Minnesota and, in fact, has more land area than some states. Yet people are often surprised to learn all the areas of responsibility that fall within the sheriff’s office: boat and water safety, homeland security and emergency management, the rescue squad, law enforcement services, emergency communications, radio maintenance, and the county jail.

The primary is Aug. 9. Election Day is Nov. 8. Early voting has already begun.

The sheriff’s office also has five subdivisions: administration, patrol, investigations, civil/warrants/records, and court security. Primary offices are in Duluth, Hibbing, and Virginia. Over the years, I’ve worked in all subdivisions, as well as partnering with the 180 public-safety agencies around St. Louis County.

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As you can see, it requires diverse experience to be an effective sheriff. Directing staff and divisions of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office is not something you pick up overnight. During my 24 years, I’ve built relationships and mutual trust with citizens, criminal-justice partners, and public-safety personnel. I know the people and communities of our county, and, of equal importance, they know my commitment.

To date, 13 organizations across St. Louis County have given me the honor of their endorsement. From police, sheriffs, firefighters, and many labor unions, they all agree on who should be the next sheriff. (To see a list of them all, please visit LukovskyForSheriff.com). Sheriff Litman has also endorsed me for this position, something especially meaningful because he has seen my work product and commitment for 24 years.

As your sheriff, I will work tirelessly to build upon public-safety partnerships and collaborative community efforts, establish new and innovative programming, and utilize technology to increase efficiencies and transparency. I am dedicated to keeping you and your family safe.

I won’t be alone, though. The sheriff’s office employs 280 skilled women and men who work diligently to identify and problem-solve community concerns, prevent and reduce crime, and represent victims’ interests. These dedicated professionals, working in conjunction with other public-safety agencies and community partners, are always looking out for you and your family. I am proud to call them my colleagues.

Think of how law enforcement has changed, even in the past 10 years. We need to look at problems and issues differently and be creative in our problem-solving efforts to ensure we are serving citizens to the best of our ability. We need to evaluate what is working and what is not and listen to the needs of our citizens. A sheriff must not only be experienced but compassionate, level-headed, and a committed servant leader.

I will continue advocating for tools and resources that enhance public-safety services and work hard to exceed your expectations. An effective sheriff’s office is indeed a team effort. I will continue advocating for initiatives that improve officer safety, health and wellness, and competitive wages and benefits. We cannot expect our staff to take care of us if we are not taking care of them.

I humbly submit that no other candidate has my diverse level of law-enforcement experience, familiarity with St. Louis County, and respect among the many organizations and constituents the sheriff’s office serves.

I would appreciate your consideration and vote on Aug. 9.

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Jason Lukovsky of Fredenberg Township is running for St. Louis County sheriff. He wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page.

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