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Grand Forks council member enters sheriff's race

Danny Weigel of Ward 1 is sworn in at Grand Forks City in the meeting meeting held on June 28, 2016 in Grand Forks, N.D. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)

Grand Forks City Council member Danny Weigel announced his run for Grand Forks County Sheriff on Monday. The news starts the 2018 race for the office, with Weigel the first to officially launch a campaign.

Weigel, who was first elected to the City Council a year ago, is a sergeant with the UND Police Department with previous experience at the Walsh County Sheriff’s Office. He attended UND and Lake Region State College, according to a statement issued by his campaign and is a graduate of Grand Forks Central High School.

“Being born and raised in Grand Forks has afforded me the opportunity to meet many great community members both in Grand Forks and all through the county,” Weigel said in the release. “To have the opportunity to seek the position of Grand Forks County Sheriff is truly a dream come true, and I look forward to meeting with citizens throughout the county to earn their vote.”

The statement adds that Weigel “hopes to focus on issues including the partnership between Grand Forks County residents and the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office,” and lists “drug abuse, property crimes and domestic violence” as particular areas of concern.

Weigel’s announcement comes after news that the current sheriff, Bob Rost, intends to seek election to the Grand Forks County Commission in 2018, when he finishes his second term in office.

Weigel, 27, has been in law enforcement for more than seven years. He began as a Walsh County Sheriff’s Deputy in 2010, and joined the UND Police Department in 2012. Weigel said he has worked patrol duties, criminal investigations and as a public information officer. He was a member of the Grand Forks Regional SWAT team for four years. Weigel said he’d been involved on the administrative side of the UND department, too.

Likely to be the youngest candidate for sheriff, Weigel said he emphasizes leadership and the ability to work with the community.

He said law enforcement has changed in the last 20 years and being open to new forms of community policing and transparency are important.

“I’m young enough to embrace change,” Weigel said. He said if elected, he’d work to make the sheriff’s office a department committed to community policing.

“We’re going to have deputies that are known by name everywhere they go,” he said.

A native of Grand Forks, Weigel said he’s come to know communities throughout the county by officiating youth sports. He said he intends to hold town halls throughout the county during his campaign to learn what citizens want out of their law enforcement.

The field for sheriff is expected to grow in the coming months, though the election won’t be decided until November 2018. Sheriff Rost told the Herald last week he expects multiple members of his office to run for sheriff, as well as ranking members of the Grand Forks Police Department.

Grand Forks City Clerk Sherie Lundmark said that, to her knowledge, there are no city codes preventing Weigel from serving both as a City Council member and as sheriff at the same time. She noted that Eliot Glassheim, a longtime Grand Forks council member, also served as a state representative for years.

Weigel told the Herald he intends to serve out the remainder of his four-year term on the council, and would be open to running again if he was elected sheriff.

“I enjoy answering to the public,” Weigel said.

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