Kelly: Set priorities, make adjustments
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of Q&As highlighting Goodhue County sheriff candidates. Read about the other candidates here.
Address: 32999 Grosse Point Road
Campaign online: www.Martykellyforsheriff.com
Education: 1984 graduate of Red Wing High School; Bachelor’s Degree in law enforcement from Mankato State University with a minor in psychology, 1988; Alexandria Technical College Police Skills Program, 1987; Medico-legal death investigator certified diplomat, 2010; Leadership in Police Organizations graduate, 2014; Chiefs of Police Leadership Academy graduate, 2009
Family: Wife, Mary Jo; children Brianna (22), Sara (20), Sam (19), Jack (19) and Megan (19)
Occupation: Patrol Supervisor with Red Wing Police Department
Community involvement: Member of St. Joseph Catholic Church – Red Wing; volunteer youth football coach (20 years), youth baseball coach (5 years) 4-H adult leader with Vasa 4-H (five years) and Goodhue County Fair; Goodhue County foster parent, 1989-1994; Red Wing Men’s Community Choir.
What are some of your major objectives for the Sheriff's Office?
I have some very clear objectives.
Cohesiveness: I want to take care of the people who are serving our communities so that they can focus on taking care of you. I want to make sure they have the training and equipment needed to do a difficult job, day in and day out. All too often, deputies, support staff and detention deputies are overlooked. We also need to focus on supporting our first responders and ambulance service. In many cases, these are volunteers stepping forward to answer emergency calls for service.
Teamwork: Drug addiction and mental health affect not only the Sheriff's Office but several other county departments. I want to enhance the relationships with the County Attorney's Office and Health & Human Services so that we can address these concerns as a team. We need to take a hard look at what is working, what is not working, and then be open to change and evaluate the progress.
I am a strong advocate of moving forward with treatment courts within our county. It is time to look at the evidence of what works and invest in doing things differently.
Communication / transparency: It is important to have open communication so that we are able to share information and address concerns together. One way we can do this is by attending city council and town board meetings.
What are the biggest issues facing Goodhue County law enforcement today and how would you manage them?
Some of the biggest challenges are the increased availability and use of methamphetamines, lack of resources for mental health issues, and public relations.
Methamphetamine use is at an all-time high in Goodhue County. As sheriff, I would be active in our Southeast Minnesota Violent Crime Enforcement Team so that we can constantly evaluate what is working, not working and make the changes needed so that we are aggressive on drugs.
The lack of available care for individuals facing a mental health crisis is costing the county thousands of dollars each year. I have witnessed far too often an individual having to wait hours, and sometimes days, until placement and proper help can be found. Sometimes these facilities are hours away and the individual is transported in a squad car. There needs to be a better way; I would be active in meeting with other agencies and divisions to develop a plan to address this.
Public relations with law enforcement has been a central concern everywhere for the last several years. I am a strong advocate of community policing and have used it for 30 years in my job with the Red Wing Police Department. I intend to lead by example. It is vitally important to build those relationships in our communities so that citizens know who we are and trust us.
In what ways are you prepared to deal with the tough financial decisions that face the Sheriff's Office today?
Managing the financial decisions of the Sheriff's Office is like what many people do; whether they are budgeting for a Fortune 500 company or if they need to handle their own finances at home, it is all about priorities and adjusting. Monitoring the budget, gathering input from employees, and making necessary changes to stay within the budget are all important.
It is also important to have a good working relationship with the county administrator and finance director so we can have open discussions when needed. We also need to be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars by spending the dollars appropriately.
I believe that we need to do a complete audit of our budget so that those people who provide the service have input into how the dollars are spent.
I am fully prepared to have those conversations and to make sure that we are both efficient and focused on providing the highest level of service. When we allow our entire staff the ability to have input, we create an atmosphere that everyone feels ownership and responsibility.