Why do we Elect Our Sheriffs?

Why do we Elect Our Sheriffs?

The primary election is this week! One of the items on the ballot will be a vote for sheriffs, elected law enforcement officials. 

Almost everyone has heard of sheriffs, but many people do not know how they differ from other law enforcement officials or even why they are elected.

The tradition of electing sheriffs goes back to the beginnings of US history. Sheriffs were actually an invention of early England, dating back to the sixth century. Sheriffs enforced the laws and collected taxes. The first sheriff in the US was elected to office in Virginia in the mid-sixteen hundreds. Like the sheriffs of England, their role was to enforce the law, especially protecting wealthy land-owners, and to collect taxes and run the jail system.

As the United States grew, the office of sheriff grew with it. Many states incorporated the office of sheriff into their state constitution, often choosing to elect the sheriff, only Rhode Island and Hawaii appoint their sheriffs, and in Alaska there is no office of the sheriff.

Minnesota has elected or appointed sheriffs since its beginning. The first sheriff in Wright County was elected in 1855. There have been 27 sheriffs since then and it is the third largest sheriff’s office in the state. This election we will be choosing a new sheriff for Wright County.

What does the Sheriff do? Like sheriffs of the past, modern sheriffs enforce the law. The sheriffs enforce law at the county level, while other law enforcement officers do so at the city or state level. The Wright County sheriff is responsible for all law enforcement duties in Wright county and often in many of the towns in Wright County. The sheriff’s office works in conjunction with town and state law enforcement officials, all of which are appointed positions.

Because the office of sheriff is elected by the people, as citizens we have the responsibility to research who is running for sheriff and vote for the candidate we believe will do the best job in Wright County. There have been several forums in which the five individuals running for Wright County sheriff have presented their views and beliefs. Each candidate also has a website which you can visit.

The primary election this week will be a time when the five candidates are narrowed down to two candidates, who will then run in the general election in November. The narrowing of the field is one of the reasons it is so important to vote in the primary election!

If you would like more information on the sheriffs running for office in Wright County, you can visit their webpages, or email me at reneeforhouse@gmail.com.

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