WASHBURN COUNTY — 6 people applied for consideration to be selected as the next Washburn County Chief Deputy before the application deadline on Friday, March 5, 2021. Several candidates have been selected for interviews, including internal applicants.
The position became available after Nick Helstern retired earlier this month. Helstern had protected and served the citizens of Washburn County for nearly 30 years, with the last two as Chief Deputy. He was selected by Washburn County Sheriff Dennis Stuart in March of 2019 after Mike Richter announced he was retiring after spending 14 years as Chief Deputy and nearly 34 years total in Washburn County Law Enforcement.
The interviews, scheduled for Thursday, March 11, 2021, will be conducted by an Interview Panel which will consist of the Chairs of both the Law Enforcement and Personnel Committees, The Administrative Coordinator/Human Resources Director, the Sheriff, and a subject matter expert. This panel will be assembled by the Personnel Office, according to Washburn County County Clerk, Lolita Olson.
Following the interview process, the Panel will give their recommendations to Washburn County Sheriff Dennis Stuart for his review and potential selection. An offer will then be made to the candidate that the Sheriff selects.
The recruitment and interview process is Washburn County policy, however, the actual appointment of the Chief Deputy is ultimately up to Sheriff as he may choose to offer the position to anyone - as long as they meet the legal requirements to hold the position - regardless of the recommendation(s) presented by the Interview Panel.
Sheriff Stuart stated to DrydenWire.com on Monday that he has met or knows each candidate that has applied but has not made a decision yet and will wait until the interview process has been completed. Stuart also said that he will “take into consideration what the Interview Panel has for input.”
Stuart, who was elected as Washburn County Sheriff in 2018 and began his term in 2019, said that he is planning on running for re-election at the end of his current term. When asked if his selection of the next Chief Deputy would be impacted by his re-election decision, Stuart said "no." Adding, “My decision for Chief Deputy will be based on the best candidate for the Sheriff’s Office and the constituents of Washburn County.”
Sheriff Stuart said his decision "should be made by close of business Friday."