Amazi ready for new post

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 7, 2002

If she wasn't one already, Terese Amazi is a role model now.

Amazi is the first woman to be elected county sheriff in Minnesota history.

Others have run and failed. Only Amazi ran and succeeded and became a role model in the process.

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"A little girl in Grand Meadow wrote me and asked for campaign materials, clippings and other material, when I announced I was running for sheriff, so I think so. I think I am a role model for everyone though," said Amazi.

A long-time chief deputy in the Mower County Sheriff's Department, Amazi had the endorsement of her boss. Mower County Sheriff Barry Simonson asked Amazi to succeed him when he announced he would retire after two terms in office.

Amazi has held nearly every position in local law enforcement and frequently was called upon to supervise the department's offices in the absence of the sheriff.

Todd Clennon, an Austin Police Department officer, challenged Amazi.

"I'm disappointed I didn't win," said Clennon, "but I'm very happy and pleased with the support I received."

Clennon said he and Amazi "kept our campaign clean" and focused on issues.

He said by raising issues on the public's and local law enforcement's minds, "I helped the public see through to the problem."

Also, Clennon observed, "I don't think the sheriff's department is functioning to its fullest capabilities and I wanted to help them accomplish that."

In making his debut in elective office politics, Clennon said it was a "learning experience."

Will he ever do this again? "Maybe, somewhere down the road," he hinted.

'Living a dream'

For Amazi, she is living a dream she had since age 14 to be in law enforcement. Her husband, Wayne, is an Austin Police Department officer and her grandfather, William, was a South St. Paul police officer during the Great Depression.

After she is sworn-in in January 2003, Amazi will be able to run the department "her way."

Already, she is working on changes to come and they could include 10-hour days to increase patrol coverage of the county by deputies and to address issues involving the transportation of prisoners and patients to jails or treatment centers and hospitals.

"Jail over-crowding remains the No. 1 issue," she said of the sheriff's department's priorities.

It was not until 4 a.m. Wednesday and long after the polls had closed and ballots counted that Amazi was able to say to herself "I won!"

With her sisters at her side, that moment will be savored for a lifetime.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at