Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek defeated challenger Eddie Frizell by a more than two-to-one margin in his quest for a third term.
Stanek took a commanding early lead and never looked back.
“We worked really hard. We left nothing on the table,” said Stanek, surrounded by friends, family and supporters at his campaign party in St. Louis Park. “Our message is real simple: We will continue to work on the reduction of violent crime. We will continue to increase community outreach and to respect the civil rights and privacy of residents of this county.”
Frizell and Stanek, both of whom have had prominent careers with the Minneapolis Police Department, ran a spirited race. Stanek had emphasized his accomplishments, while Frizell criticized the incumbent’s trips to national meetings and conferences, called his leadership “toxic” and said he had a “bully mentality.”
Stanek said he has heard his opponent’s criticisms and has reached out to the deputies union but said he remains focused on the people.
“The elected sheriff works for the residents of the county,” Stanek said. “This is about the residents, the voters and public safety.”
Stanek received 68 percent of the vote to Frizell's 32 percent.
Stanek, 52, lives in Maple Grove. A Minneapolis police captain when he first ran for sheriff in 2006, he ran his third campaign on his record, saying he’s lowered violent crime in the county, built a new crime lab and 911 dispatch center, dealt with a heroin epidemic, combated human trafficking, and educated community leaders and elected officials about countering extremism.
Stanek also created a large Community Advisory Board to engage diverse communities, and hired and trained the nation’s first Somali-American deputy. During his second term, citing constitutionality questions, he said the county no longer would grant federal requests to hold immigrant inmates for 48 hours beyond their normal release times for possible deportation.
He credits strong ties with minority and immigrant communities for his success on the job and his re-election.
“We went to work building those long-term relationships,” Stanek said.
Beyond his years with the Minneapolis Police Department, Stanek was a legislator from 1995 to 2003. He was appointed the state’s Public Safety commissioner and director of homeland security in 2003, but resigned in April 2004 when his involvement in a 1989 incident came to light. In that incident, Stanek allegedly shouted racial epithets and assaulted a black driver at the scene of a traffic accident in which he was involved.
Since then, Stanek has won praise from minority leaders, as well as for the department’s rescue efforts in the 2007 Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis.
Stanek said during the campaign that he had no problem justifying his travel time.
“My opponent says I should spend more time at home and shouldn’t be advocating public policy,” he told the Star Tribune. “I shouldn’t be attending lunches about domestic abuse or shouldn’t be testifying at hearings about mental illness or heroin issues. These aren’t vacations. I think he’s out of touch with what it means to be an elected sheriff.”
Stanek also said during the campaign that he understood deputies’ frustration that the County Board has frozen their salary five out of the past seven years (they did receive a 7 percent raise this year).
Frizell, 51, also lives in Maple Grove, was one of three deputy chiefs in the Minneapolis Police Department. He filed at the last minute to run.
He’d been recognized by his department for overseeing significant crime reduction as a precinct inspector pushing community engagement efforts. He is also a Minnesota Army National Guard colonel with a long military résumé.