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Hennepin Sheriff Stanek called 'absentee leader' by challenger

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Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek is accused of "absentee leadership" and creating low morale in his department by a Minneapolis police veteran who announced Wednesday he is running against Stanek in the November election, the Star Tribune reports.

Ed Frizell, a deputy chief of the Minneapolis Police Department and a colonel in the Minnesota Army National Guard, said under Stanek, the sheriff's office's administrative costs are up 70 percent, while morale is down among deputies in the department, according to KSTP.

Frizell claimed administrative costs have gone up significantly at the same time the department doesn't have enough money to serve felony warrants “in a timely manner,” according to the Star Tribune.

Frizell won overwhelming support from the union that represents the department's deputies in a vote Wednesday. He received 75 percent of the votes from members who participated, compared to just 9 percent for Stanek. Another 16 percent did not endorse either candidate, said KSTP.

After the results were announced, Stanek’s campaign released a statement:

“The election this fall will give everyone who lives in Hennepin County the chance to decide who is the best person to be sheriff. We respect everyone who is involved in this process and strongly believe that Sheriff Rich Stanek’s outstanding record clearly makes him the best person to continue to keep people safe across Hennepin County.”

Stanek claimed the union voted against him because he refused to make promises at a meeting last week, when the deputies were voting on a new two-year contract that includes a 7 percent pay increase, according to KSTP.

Stanek added that he has the support of several other labor unions, including Minneapolis Police. He also claims that violent crime in Hennepin County has declined by 36 percent in the seven years he has been sheriff, said KSTP.

Frizell, a Democrat, is seeking the endorsement of the Hennepin County DFL. He has not held elective office before, the Star Tribune said. He has served in the Minneapolis Police Department for 19 years.

Stanek, a Republican, has served two terms as sheriff and is seeking re-election to a third. He is a 20-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, was a member of the Minnesota House for eight years, and served as Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s commissioner of public safety for one year.

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