ST. CLOUD -- There's a new sheriff in town and he's got some big plans for Stearns County, Steve Soyka won his election bid last night, with 57% of the vote.

He's been with the Stearns County Sheriff's Office since 1996. Soyka has 27 years total of law enforcement experience.

He was most recently the commander of the Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force.

Soyka says he wants to bring an improved level of service to Stearns County. He says that means he'll be training the department on more "community-oriented policing" tactics and strategies.

"Train our people up on what community-oriented policing is. And hopefully that'll get out to the public and they'll see a different level of service from our people. We're not doing badly now - I just think there are things we could improve upon with more community interaction."

The new sheriff says he knows there are some challenges ahead for him, particularly, in jail staffing.

"It's a matter of going out and recruiting enough people and getting back to full staff. And the end result of that should be less overworking for the people we have right now -- don't want to burn them out -- so morale should increase with a full staff. And hopefully, we'll reduce overtime, transport and the costs with housing inmates in other facilities."

Soyka said throughout his campaign that he also wants to be the type of sheriff who is not always in the office and wants to continue to be out on the streets.

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

More From AM 1240 WJON