Washburn County Sheriff Candidates Answer Questions Vol. 5

Washburn County Sheriff Candidates Answer Questions Vol. 5

This week, we didn't ask the two candidates a question, rather, we gave each of them the opportunity to write about a topic(s) of their choice.

[Editor's Note: This will be our last week of Washburn County Sheriff Candidates Answer Questions. We have spoken to each candidate about this decision prior to this post. Going forward, we invited the candidates to appear individually for a Live segment on our Facebook page. We also invited the candidates to appear together for a Live debate.]

Per our first week's coin-flip, Minong Police Chief Dennis Stuart's response will appear first followed directly by the response from Washburn County Chief Deputy Mike Richter.

Minong Police Chief Dennis Stuart

When given the choice of topics to write about this week I tossed many topics around; budgets, officer safety, community safety, drugs, etc. I do believe that these issues are important and need much more attention so I will be addressing these topics on my Facebook page in upcoming videos. There was something on my mind that I have not had the opportunity to talk about and I felt that this was my opportunity. In this last question on DrydenWire, I have decided to talk about an issue that is near to my heart. It is something that I believe needs to be publicized and this platform seems like the perfect place to start. Today I would like to talk about a program called Restored

I have been working in the community for many years and through these years I have watched what works and what does not. I have seen people go from sobriety back to addiction far too many times to count. Often these people have the best intentions but no place to go or no support if they go home. 

With meth use at an all-time high there is more of a need than ever to think beyond the courts and jails. After people have been incarcerated they are often released with no option but to go back to the same environment. Some people have burned so many bridges with their addiction and criminal behavior they have no place to go. Those leaving treatment programs are often not ready to re-enter the world without support. As of now there are very few options for these people. 

I met with a small group in January to discuss what we could do as a community. I had been thinking and talking about doing something for months but just did not have a solid idea of what that would look like. It seems as if this was a message that has been plaguing many minds in Washburn County. So, what started out as a conversation over a cup of coffee has grown to something I am so proud to be a part of. 

Restored is an effort to address the ills that are plaguing Washburn County. Restored is a faith-based program that is being created to offer those who are in need a vital break in the cycle of addiction. When brainstorming ideas to help recovering addicts, over and over we came to the same conclusion. That conclusion was the need for transitional housing for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues. A person who is attempting to maintain sobriety is often dealing with many more issues. There are the physical, emotional, and mental health issues to address. They often need time in a safe and healthy environment. They need an environment that will not only support sobriety but also offer mentorship and social supports. These Restored homes will offer accountability, structure, peer support and mentorship, all while being grounded in faith. 

I am so excited and honored to be a part of this team. But, as with anything, no one works alone. I serve on the Board of Directors of Restored and work with a talented team of people who have a huge amount of love for the people that we plan on serving as well as a strong faith that pushes them forward. 

Some will think this is political. It is not. I will be working with Restored for as long as they will have me. There are some things that are bigger and more important than myself. I have come to understand that without reaching down and helping those who need to be lifted back up, there is little success. 

If you would like more information on Restored or would like to donate to the cause or to be a mentor, please reach out to either Mike Knox at mknox@spoonerwesleyan.org or Dennis Stuart at 715-520-0575 or dfs551@hotmail.com

Lastly, I would like to thank Drydenwire for hosting this column and to all of you who have taken the time to read about these local issues. I look forward to answering additional questions from the public and to addressing other community issues by video on the Dennis Stuart for Sheriff Facebook page. Please feel free to comment if you have any questions or concerns. 

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ~Luke 6:38 

Washburn County Chief Deputy Mike Richter

This week the candidates were offered the opportunity to talk about the topic of their choice. I have chosen to write about my pursuit for the Office of Washburn County Sheriff. My career of over 30 years at The Washburn County sheriff’s Office has been geared to serve the citizens and to raise my skill set to a level where I could get positive results in my assignments. I have worked as a patrol deputy, an undercover drug officer, an investigator, interim jail manager, and chief deputy. In each of these assignments, I was driven by the strong desire to succeed. Success was a direct result of studying and practicing the craft necessary to continually improve.

Thirteen years ago when contemplating my application for the chief deputy position, I recognized that this position could serve as a great preparatory assignment to become The Washburn County Sheriff. Working in the number two position at The Sheriff’s Office is the absolute best spot to be if you want to learn all aspects of The Sheriff’s Constitutional Office. I believe that if you have a goal, you need to make preparations to put yourself in position to reach the goal. I think that hard work and realizing achievement is the best path to meeting goals. Education and learning new skills should begin in preparation for your career and should not end until your career has been completed. 

In asking for your vote to be your next Sheriff, I see the citizens of Washburn County as the interview panel that will vet the candidates and choose the most qualified candidate as Sheriff. In most hiring processes the focus is primarily on: education, experience, and accomplishments. 


I graduated with a high school diploma from Shell Lake High School. I received an associate’s degree in police science at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, WI. I completed recruit training (Graduating #2 in my class) at WI Indianhead Technical College in Rice Lake, to become a certified law enforcement officer in the State of Wisconsin. Some of the coursework during my career includes the two week State of WI Death Investigation School, the Reid Interview and Interrogation Training and Tactical Commander Training, to mention a few.

Law enforcement management training has consisted of 13 years of attendance at the Law Enforcement Management Conference in Superior, WI, The Northwestern University Staff and Command Training, Multi-Generational Management in a Police Organization and, finally, one of the most highly acclaimed law enforcement training programs, The University of WI/Department of Justice Command College. Upon graduation from Command College, I was awarded certification as a State of Wisconsin Certified Public Manager. 


For the first 8 years of my employment at the Washburn County Sheriff’s Office, I was assigned as a patrol deputy. During this assign,ment my duties were to respond to calls for service and emergencies in progress throughout the county. While serving as a patrol deputy, I enjoyed making contact with citizens throughout the county. Many of these relationships would lead to successes in both my patrol assignment and later assignments at the Sheriff’s Office. I was then promoted to the Drug Investigator position. In this assignment I worked as an undercover officer on drug cases throughout Northwest Wisconsin. As drug investigator, I managed numerous confidential informants, cooperating defendants, and thousands of dollars in currency used in operations and seized from defendants. As an investigator, I worked, along with my partner, in other high-level investigations at the Sheriff’s Office. During this assignment, I served as the lead Sheriff’s Office investigator on several homicide investigations. Each of these homicide investigations yielded convictions and justice to the families of the victims. During the time I held the Investigator position, I also served as the first Special Response Team Leader at the Washburn Co Sheriff’s office. In this role, I coordinated team training, and was Team Leader during tactical operations over the course of 12 years. During my tenure as SRT Team Leader, our team performed high risk warrant service, and responded to barricaded gunmen and received gunfire with no injury incurred by any of our team members. My assignment as Investigator and SRT Team Leader ended when I was promoted to the Washburn County Chief Deputy position.

I pursued the Chief Deputy position in order to gain insight into the duties and responsibilities of serving as the Washburn County Sheriff. For thirteen years I have assisted The Sheriff in personnel management with Sheriff’s office staff, developing and managing the multi-million dollar annual budget, and supervision of daily operations. My assignment as Chief Deputy has allowed me to observe and prepare for many of the challenges the Sheriff has to manage. Serving in this role has given me the best possible preparatory training to become the next Sheriff.


In explaining the achievements that I have completed throughout my career, it is difficult not to come across as boasting or bragging. With that said I would be remiss in not presenting some projects that I am very proud of and that I believe furthered the mission of The Washburn County Sheriff’s Office. The citizens of Washburn County should require that the next Sheriff has a record of taking a complex project to completion while meeting all of the project objectives.

Washburn County Drug Endangered Children Program 

While working as the drug investigator, I witnessed many homes where children were exposed to drugs and violence. I worked with a Washburn County Health and Human services supervisor to create the DEC Program. This program has protected hundreds of children exposed to drugs & violence.  This program has become a model for multi-discipline cooperation and has been presented to groups across the state of Wisconsin.

Project Manager for Sheriff’s Office RMS and Integrated CAD

 The Record Management System and Computer Aided Dispatch systems compile statistical data and provide mobile access to increase safety to our Deputies. The data that is organized in these systems helps us to identify crime trends in areas of the county, and develop patrol strategies based on these trends.  

Project manager for Next Generation 911 System

The new 911 system will provide the latest technology platform to receive emergency calls and efficiently dispatch the required resources. This system is integrated into our CAD system, which allows our dispatchers to see call history and safety concerns related to the address where the call is originating. This feature will increase safety for our deputies prior to arrival on the scene of the call.

(See more accomplishments at RichterforSheriff.com)

In comparing the candidates in this Sheriff’s race, you will notice some stark differences in the following areas:           

  • Experience in operating and management of a jail facility.
  • Arrest and enforcement statistics of each candidate.
  • Management of complex criminal cases and projects.
  • Educational accomplishments and management training.
  • Law enforcement supervision and personnel management.
  • Million dollar budget development and management.

I look forward to engaging in a debate or forum platform in the near future with my opponent to discuss these and other topics that will highlight the differences in the candidates. If you as a Washburn County Citizen evaluate the education, experience, and accomplishments of each candidate, I am confident that you will recognize that I am the most proven and prepared candidate to become the next Sheriff of Washburn County. 

Last Update: May 05, 2018 1:50 pm CDT

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