Sheriff, auditor candidates discuss approaches to position during forums

Published 8:06 am Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Inside the Austin Eagles building, candidates for the Mower County Sheriff’s Office and Mower County Auditor/Treasurer Office, shared their views and approaches to how they would best fit the job on Tuesday.

Mower County sheriff

For the Mower County Sheriff’s Office, Senior Sgt. Investigator Steve Sandvik and Sgt. John Bachman both exhibited an extensive list of experience in law enforcement and shared similar views on what were some of the issues that were pressing for the agency.

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One of those topics included increasing public trust between communities and law enforcement, as well as trying to aim for more diverse officers to reflect the changing demographics of Mower County.

For Bachman, his approach was to encourage more women and minorities to apply for positions in law enforcement, as well as increasing diversity training for deputies. He noted his view that community policing had fallen “by the wayside.”

“Trusting law enforcement is a high priority for me,” Bachman said. “We should be more approachable and having more community contact.”

Sandvik stated that his approach would be to work alongside higher education institutions to recruit candidates through those channels, and by doing so would bring more qualified individuals into the agency, and also specifically gear recruitment for diverse officers.

“It’s important,” he said. “We should be integrating ourselves into the community, and having other ways to make it easier for us to move forward together as a community. …we should be reflecting the communities that we serve and we want to be bringing quality people to serve our community.”

With issues involving crime and drugs, Sandvik and Bachman answered similarly when it came to addressing the need for additional resources that dealt with addiction, interactions with individuals who struggle with mental illness and more.

Both individuals had stated that those who struggled with addiction and mental illnesses don’t belong in jail, rather needed to be helped at a healthcare facility for treatments, with many counties struggling to find beds statewide for inmates who languish in jail because of those shortages.

“There are the same people who come through the doors,” Sandvik said. “There needs to be treatment options for those struggling.”

“It’s about funding those resources,” Bachman added. “We need programs to help reintegrate these individuals back into society.”


Current Mower County Auditor/Treasurer Steve Reinartz and challenger Scott Felten discussed the needs for a more efficient staff and practices during their portion of the forum.

Reinartz stated that he “learned a lot” during his four years as auditor and wanted to continue working on internal staffing issues and retaining employees.

“No one was there to help me and I’ve encountered many challenges,” he said. “I finally have a full staff and made some positive changes. We’ve still got some internal issues and I want to keep making positive changes toward that.”

Felten discussed the importance of being accessible to the public when it came to being a public official and believed his accounting and tax background would help the agency become more “efficient.”

“It’s important to have an office that works well together and being available for the public,” he added. “I want to be able to serve Mower County residents full-time to be a source of information, efficiency and accuracy.”