Law-enforcement veteran Troy Knudson will replace Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden in January.
Spoden is retiring after 12 years in the department’s top spot.
Voters on Tuesday chose Knudson, a Democrat, over another sheriff’s office administrator, Capt. Jude Maurer, who ran as a Republican.
Knudson said one of his first moves will be “to sit down with people and get on the same page and pointed in the right direction and then develop a strategy for the next four years.”
Knudson said two of his top goals are to improve rehabilitation services at the jail and to change the makeup of the sheriff’s office to make it better reflect the racial makeup of the county.
The office has no African-American deputy, although it does have some of Latino and Asian heritage.
At the jail, Knudson has talked about getting Rock County Human Services involved in increasing mental-health and drug-addiction treatment to inmates before they are released, so they’ll have a better chance of staying out of jail.
Maurer has called Knudson's ideas "worthy and noble" but cautioned that "the sheriff’s office must fight crime, and we cannot become an extension of human services.”
Knudson has talked about cross-training sheriff's office employees so they become more connected to the community, to other local law enforcement agencies and to the social-service system.
Knudson garnered 61 percent of the vote, compared with 39 percent for Maurer.
Knudson said he has a good relationship with Maurer and said he likely will sit down with his former opponent soon.
“We’ve both been on an interesting race together for the last several months, and I imagine we’ll have lots of things to talk about, and I think we’ll both be able to get back on track,” Knudson said.
Asked about the No. 2 person in the agency, Chief Deputy Barb Tillman, Knudson said he didn’t know if Tillman had made any decisions about her future, but he expects to see some turnover in personnel in the months ahead, and it will be a priority to “figure out how everything falls into place.”
Rumors flew during the campaign that Knudson would appoint Spoden his chief deputy, even though Knudson said repeatedly he wouldn’t do that.
Knudson has spent the past 30 years with the sheriff’s office, working in and overseeing most of the operation. He holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from Boston University and is an FBI National Academy graduate.
Knudson, 51, of rural Beloit, also serves on the Orfordville Parkview School Board.