With Sheriff Robert Spoden retiring, three of his administrators at the Rock County Sheriff’s Office are vying for the job.

Gary Groelle, a captain, and Troy Knudson, a commander, will face each other for the Democratic nomination in the Aug. 14 primary.

Groelle lost to Spoden in the 2014 primary.

Jude Maurer, also a captain, is running on the Republican ticket and in November will face the winner of the Democratic primary.

All three turned in nomination papers by the Friday deadline.

Gary Groelle

Groelle, 59, of 4918 Monarch Drive, Milton, has been with the sheriff’s office his entire career, starting as a jailer in 1982.

Groelle stresses his knowledge of the office, having worked in or supervised most positions in the agency; his connections in law enforcement and in the community; and his leadership style as a reasons people should choose him for sheriff.

“I will use and instill a servant-style leadership, where our leaders serve their employees, challenge and empower them to grow and maximize their individual talents and abilities,” Groelle said. “Good leaders must be professional, have impeccable character and integrity. They are trusted, approachable, transparent and fair in all areas.”

“The sheriff’s office will be a united ‘team’ where we work together and support each other, thus making the sheriff’s office and our community a better place to live and raise our families.”

Groelle said his top priority will be to enhance professionalism, accountability and pride by getting the sheriff’s office accredited through the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Accreditation Group.

Troy Knudson

Knudson, 51, of 8443 S. Pinnow Grove Road, Beloit, also has spent his entire career with the sheriff’s office, starting as a jailer in 1988.

Knudson said his experience sets him apart. He has held the third-highest rank in the office for 11 years, many times acting as chief deputy in her absence, and he has been in charge of both the Law Enforcement Services Division and Correctional Services Division.

“Myself and the other commanders supervise the six captains and ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the various bureaus,” Knudson wrote. “I am also responsible for overseeing the Emergency Management Bureau. In contrast, the other two candidates are captains assigned to manage a single bureau.”

Knudson said his experience also includes serving on the SWAT team, preparing the entire office’s budget, participating in labor contract negotiations, reviewing vendor contracts and hiring, among other duties.

Knudson said his top priority will be “to redouble the sheriff’s office’s commitment to transparency and responsiveness to other criminal-justice agencies and the community. We must constantly strive to work with community leaders and legislators to identify and address social ills that drive our crime and increasing incarceration rate. We must lead with fairness and compassion, coordinating the provision of services to those in need.”

Jude Maurer

Maurer, 45, of 3802 Briar Crest Drive, Janesville, served six years with the military police in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. He also was a part-time police officer for the villages of Albany and Monticello before joining the sheriff’s office in 1995.

“My extensive leadership experience includes responding to 911 calls, training new deputies, managing the budget and overseeing patrol and jail operations, while as a member of the Rock County Deputy Sheriff’s Supervisors Association, I was elected president and grievance officer. Currently, I am chairman of the Rock County Traffic Safety Committee, member of the Rock County Safe Schools Inter-agency Team, member of the Sex Offender Bulletin Notification Team and member of the UW Rock Behavioral Intervention Team,” Maurer said.

Maurer pledged “impartial, transparent, and honest leadership. ... In my opinion, there is a distinct difference between leading and managing. A manager tends to micromanage and inhibit employee growth, while a leader recognizes employees as equals, not subordinates. I believe I am the only candidate who has consistently demonstrated quality leadership ...” he wrote.

Maurer said his top priority would be to “immediately reemphasize and enhance our core values and mission statement to incorporate a more employee-focused or people-centered culture to ensure core values remain tangible and known within the sheriff’s office, the Rock County community, and the law enforcement community...”

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