ST. CLOUD -- For the first time in years, there is an open seat for Stearns County Sheriff. The two men who are running for that job were on the News @ Noon Show Thursday for a candidate forum.

Drugs and violent crime was one of the topics they discussed. Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud says the Violent Offender Task Force is an important collaboration for local law enforcement.

Continue to work with VOTF, to be a part of that.  Do what we can to try to expand their abilities to work out in the rural areas.  Because that's one of the things I've heard a lot in my travels is the concern that people have for the drug flow and the access our youth seem to have to illicit drugs.

Sergeant Steve Soyka used to be the commander of the Violent Offender Task Force. He says a lot of times their investigations led them back to the St. Cloud metro area.

The reality is the St. Cloud metro area is kind of a target area and a lot of our business, unfortunately, brought the investigators back into the St. Cloud area to do the search warrants.  But there's definitely stuff out west that needs to be worked on.

Soyka and Bentrud also talked about fighting sex trafficking and gave their reactions to the recently released Wetterling files.

Former Sheriff John Sanner retired in April of last year after 14 years as the Sheriff. Current Sheriff Don Gudmunson was appointed to fill the position by the county board.

The general election is November 6th, but early voting is already underway.


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