Another round of debates for Amazi, Ellis

Published 2:32 pm Friday, October 29, 2010

Should she be elected, Amazi said getting the jail up and running efficiently will be one of her key focuses. She said she’s meeting with her staff to determine the best plan to complete that goal within budget.

“This is a whole new way that we’re going to be operating a jail,” she said.

Jailers have been traveling to neighboring jails for training, which has caused a delay in the move to the new jail. Amazi said that delay is necessary to ensure that the project is done properly.

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“We can’t compromise safety. … We want to make sure that we’re doing this as safely as possible,” she said

Amazi said she started her career as a jailer, and that experience is serving her well in the current transition.

Ellis said the sheriff is held responsible for public safety, but he will also focus on managing the budget. Ellis stated recent budgets have been inflated compared to actual costs. Ellis said an inmate transfer fund was over budgeted by more than $100,000, and he said that must change.

Ellis said he’s met regularly with the county coordinator and the finance director to gain knowledge about budget issues.

“Our economy is at a fragile state,” he said. “Public safety is number one, but the sheriff has to be held accountable for the spending of tax payer dollars.”

Civil service commission

One person asked why the civil service disbanded, and Amazi noted that the group was delaying interviews of new employees for up to four weeks.

“It was very, very cumbersome,” Amazi said.

She described commission as a hiring board, and noted the decision was made with input by human resources and the board of commissioners.

If elected, Ellis said he’d look at bringing the civil service commission back, because it’s important that people have a say in the issues.

“I think it’s important that we get input from the citizens on who’s going to be protecting and serving them,” Ellis said.


In previous debates, an issue has been discussed where Ellis incorrectly filed an overtime slip. The two candidates provided some clarity on the incident Thursday.

Ellis turned in an overtime slip when he was called in by the chief deputy. Since he works nights, Ellis has to come in off duty to talk to the sheriff and other leadership. Ellis said he turned in an overtime slip on one occasion.

Amazi said Ellis was in the office when the incident occurred, reiterating that she had not called him in. The overtime slip was approved, but Amazi told Ellis it would be the only time.


When asked how to reduce incidents of speeding in rural towns, Amazi noted speeding is the one of the most common complaints. She said she lets chief deputies know to patrol areas where 55 mph speed zones decrease to 30 mph zones.

“We try to give those areas extra patrols, so that we don’t have any tragic accidents,” she said.

Ellis said that as a sergeant, he commonly goes to certain areas to ensure there is extra patrol. Ellis said they can also periodically move around a radar alert trailer to help prevent drivers from speeding.


Even though Amazi revealed recently that dispatch is not likely to be regionalized to Owatonna, both candidates said some restructuring could aid the department.

“We should still look at restructuring and also at a 10-hour schedule,” Ellis said

According to Amazi, the 10-hour schedule has been implemented and it is saving money. She said that dispatchers are currently being trained, and some dispatchers are set to step up to new roles with upcoming retirements.


When asked if a third party should investigate when a suit is brought against a public employee, Ellis said an outside investigator is the best way to handle such situations.

“If we look at it ourselves, we’re always open to questions of integrity,” he said.

Amazi said her office currently works with neighboring counties to investigate such claims to do what she called “conflict cases.”

Chief deputy

Should Amazi win the race, Mark May will continue as her chief deputy, Amazi said.

Ellis said he has a list of candidates should he win, and May is high on the list. However, Ellis noted he hasn’t discussed the issue with May, because he doesn’t want to put him in an awkward position.