Washington County Sheriff candidates look toward the area’s future

In the race for Washington County Sheriff, there are two candidates residents will have to choose from on Election Day.

Candidates include Wyoming Public Safety Director and Police Chief Paul Hoppe and current Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry. The Washington County Board appointed Starry to the county sheriff position following former Sheriff Bill Hutton’s retirement in the spring of 2017. The remainder of Starry’s partial term expires at the end of the year.

The Review asked the candidates via email why they are running, what skills and experiences they will bring to the position, what they believe the top challenges will be in the county in upcoming years and what project they will prioritize if elected.


Hoppe, 49, who lives in Scandia with his wife Lucy, works full-time as the public safety director and police chief of Wyoming, and holds a master’s degree in police administration from the University of St. Thomas.

Hoppe said that if he is elected, he will bring to office almost 10 years of experience as a police chief, in addition to his skills as a graduate of the FBI National Academy, his “visionary leadership” skills and his “27 years of diverse public safety experience.”

Hoppe also pointed out that in 2017 the Wyoming Police Department won an Excellence in Innovation Award, presented by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.

Hoppe said that he is running for the position because this election will determine the future of law enforcement in Washington County. He added that it will determine if the county stays the way it is or chooses a “visionary, innovative leader who is focused on evolving the department with our communities and address more complex issues as our growth continues.”

Hoppe said that he believes the sheriff’s office is struggling with internal issues that will require new leadership, adding that the typical procedure of addressing crime is no longer sustainable.

“Backed by over 27 years in law enforcement, and almost 10 years as a police chief, I have proven leadership transforming an organization to one of the most progressive and innovative departments in Minnesota,” Hoppe said. “If elected sheriff I will seek to provide the highest level of leadership to grow, adapt and evolve the department into innovative problem solvers with effective solutions. I am running because I believe it will require a change in leadership to progress the department.”

When asked what he believes are Washington County’s top challenges, Hoppe listed the county’s population growth, which result in growing demands on law enforcement services, and a decline in people willing to serve in law enforcement.

“The sheriff’s office will be challenged with controlled growth, how to plan in collaboration with the communities they serve to meet the expanded service demands as our traffic volumes increase, neighborhoods grow and more complex crimes expand,” Hoppe explained. “We will be challenged on how to deal with cybercrime, the safety of our schools, and the opioid epidemic.”

On the topic of employee retention and recruitment, Hoppe explained, “We have to take a hard look at the conditions within the organization that are driving good employees to leave, and focusing on retaining employees to stabilize the workforce.” 

Hoppe said that if he is elected, he will prioritize examining the county’s new records management system and implement an action plan for getting it fully functional. He explained that this system is causing problems for law enforcement because it isn’t working as designed, and “having a system that isn’t working properly can affect public safety.”

“This is similar to a project I have successfully lead six years ago in another neighboring organization, and will require a determined leader to overcome the challenges they are currently facing,” he added.


Starry, 47, is married to Jeanice and lives in Stillwater.

Starry has worked full-time as the Washington County Sheriff, since May 2017, and he holds a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice/political science from St. Mary’s University.

Starry said that if he is elected, he will bring to the position the skills and experience he has gained while serving as the current Washington County Sheriff, in addition to those he gained while serving in almost every rank within the Sheriff’s Office. 

“I am the only candidate that has experience as an investigator, a K9 handler, a narcotics officer, a SWAT operator, a DARE officer, a school resource officer and a commander,” Starry said, adding, “I am the only candidate that has experience supervising a jail, courthouse security, a 911 communications center, and a SWAT team. I have significant experience with our local legislative delegation, on both sides of the aisle, to promote public safety legislation to make our community and our schools safer.”

Starry said he is running for re-election because he loves Washington County, its residents and the employees he works with.

“I am proud of the fact that we are a leader amongst law enforcement agencies in many areas including community engagement, technology and collaborative partnerships with our local first responder partners,” Starry said. “I have also held every rank and am honored to supervise the 256 great men and women in this agency as the sheriff. My experiences drive me to provide the tools and support that our employees need to continue to serve with the highest level of dedication and professionalism.”

When asked about the top challenges facing Washington County, Starry said that the county residents identified impaired and distracted driving, and identity theft as their biggest concerns.

“As Washington County Sheriff, I have actively directed resources towards those issues including: applying for and receiving a grant for a dedicated deputy to enforce DWI laws on roadways, as well as, being the lead agency in the Toward Zero Death traffic safety initiative,” Starry said. “I believe it is the responsibility of the sheriff to be a voice for the safety of our citizens. I have recently brought together all school districts in Washington County to ensure we are providing the safest learning environment for our children.”

Starry noted that there are many issues society faces and he has many projects planned for the sheriff’s office, but if he had to prioritize one to focus on it would be related to mental health.

He explained that mental health has been stigmatized for too long, jail is not the best way to work on the mental health crisis that has developed, and he intends to develop creative ways to work on mental health issues in the community.

“Just recently I have partnered with our Community Services Department to utilize their 24/7 crisis response in conjunction with our deputies and officers throughout Washington County,” he added.


Election Day is Nov. 6. To verify your voting location visit, www.pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.


-Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com.

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