Three vie for Martin County Sheriff | News, Sports, Jobs


FAIRMONT– In the Aug. 9 primary election, Martin County residents will have the opportunity to narrow the Martin County sheriff’s field ahead of the Nov. 8 general election. Three candidates have filed and are in the running: Jeff Markquart, James Kotewa and Jonathan Auringer.

Markquart was born in Fairmont and graduated from Sherburn/Dunnell High School. Martin County has been his home for nearly 60 years.

Likewise, Kotewa was born and raised in Fairmont and is a 4th generation Martin County resident.

Auringer hails from the nearby community of Lake Crystal. He has lived in the neighborhood since 2018.

Markquart is currently Sheriff of Martin County. He has been a licensed peace officer for 20 years, and in 2002 began his law enforcement career as a highway deputy with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. In 2008, he was promoted to Deputy Chief, where he gained first-hand experience performing the administrative duties of the Sheriff’s Office. He first ran for sheriff in 2010 and took office in 2011.

“For nearly 12 years as Sheriff, I have worked hard for all citizens of Martin County to make it a safe place to live, work and raise a family,” said Marcquart.

Kotewa has been involved in law enforcement for nearly 38 years. He currently holds the rank of Sergeant with the Fairmont Police Department.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Mankato State University with a major in law enforcement and a minor in corrections. In 1993, he began working as a part-time licensed police officer for the Truman Police Department, Sherburn Police Department, and Fairmont Police Department.

He has worked full-time with the Fairmont Police Department since 1997. While there, he worked as a narcotics officer for the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force and he also served as a detective. He has been a patrol sergeant since 2003.

Since holding many positions, Kotewa has been certified or trained in many aspects related to law enforcement.

Auringer graduated from Alexandria Technical College in 2003 and worked for two years with a sheriff’s department in South Dakota before transitioning to active duty status in the U.S. military. During his nine years of active duty, Auringer served as a military police officer, military police sergeant, and range safety officer. He had also been deployed to Afghanistan twice during his years in the military.

He has been with the Sherburn Welcome Police Department since 2018 and also works part-time for the Blue Earth Police Department and the Fairmont Police Department.

With respect to some issues relating specifically to Martin County, the candidates shared some thoughts on the new policy for cameras worn by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, as well as thoughts on the proposed Regional Public Safety Center and Martin County Court.

Markquart said he supports the body-worn camera program and believes the benefits of it are to keep staff safe, minimize risk and maintain transparency within the community.

As for the proposed justice center, Markquart acknowledged that the ultimate decision rests with the county commissioners. He pointed out that many different departments would be affected and would benefit from a new facility.

“Even though our existing infrastructure continues to deteriorate, I strive to do the best job possible with the facilities and resources available. If a new facility is approved and built, I would fully support the project,” said Marcquart.

Kotewa said the county’s policy on body-worn cameras is similar to that of the Fairmont Police Department that was implemented in 2018. He agreed it would provide accountability in complaints involving officers.

About the proposed justice center, said Kotwea, “The idea and concept of a new justice center should be explored as this element is an important piece of infrastructure in Martin County. It must be serviced or replaced. Many competing infrastructure projects have recently been completed or will begin shortly. Such projects can put a financial strain on our communities; however, the Justice Center should be considered a priority over the next 10 years.

Auringer agreed that the county’s policy on body-worn cameras is similar to the policies of other departments statewide. He said he believed the program would both protect MPs from non-substantial allegations of conduct and protect citizens from potential misconduct by MPs.

Moving to the proposed justice center, Auringer recognized that there was a need for a new facility as the current center is old and needs upgrades to keep up with DOC standards. However, he also noted that we are in a time of high inflation rates and other high building material costs.

“The decision should be made carefully,” he said.

Markquart said that as sheriff he kept an open door policy and many citizens would stop by his office, call him or talk to him on the street and he was happy to be able to visit or respond to questions. community issues.

When people asked why he was running for re-election, Markquart replied: “At the end of the day, while much of the work is difficult and I have many sleepless nights, it is also very rewarding to help others. I took an oath to serve and protect and Martin County can count on me to continue to do so to the best of my abilities.

Kotewa believes his experiences and training prepared him for the role of sheriff. He has worked closely with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office and knows their policies. He also said his emergency management certification taught him the importance of clear and concise emergency planning.

“I have dedicated my career to law enforcement and have acted with integrity, compassion and a strong sense of duty in the performance of my work,” said Kotwea.

Auringer said he believes his military career taught him to be a great leader and to always put the needs of others before his own. He noted that Martin County is his new home and will be for a long time.

“As sheriff, my integrity and accountability will not be compromised. It would be a great responsibility and an honor to serve the citizens of Martin County,” Auringer said.



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