The 2018 Washington County Sheriff election is starting to heat up, with Paul Hoppe entering the race to challenge current Sheriff Dan Starry for the seat.
Hoppe, a 27-year public safety veteran, has either lived or worked in almost every city in Washington County.
After former sheriff William Hutton resigned to become executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association last April, then-chief deputy Starry was appointed to fill out the term. Starry has announced he will be running in the Nov. 6 election.
PREVIOUSLY: Washington County sheriff announces election bid
Hoppe said after Hutton's retirement the county is looking to new leadership, and he could be that person.
"As a resident all my life I think it's important to get the right leader in there, someone who's innovative," he said.
Raised for a short time in Cottage Grove and then Afton, he graduated from Stillwater High School and eventually took up residence in several other Washington County cities before settling in Scandia where he currently resides with his family.
"I have deep roots in the county, it is absolutely a majestic place," Hoppe said.
He's been chief and public safety director of the Wyoming Police Department for the past nine years, but the nearly 20 years before that were spent in the Oak Park Heights Police Department, Washington County Sheriff's Department and Hennepin County Sheriff's Department. Hoppe also touts his training in the FBI National Academy program that taught him the importance of building partnerships with other organizations, and "opened my eyes to a global vision," he said.
Hoppe identified a few key initiatives he'd like to tackle if elected, including the opioid epidemic, school safety, cyber crimes and community engagement.
"Some of the challenges we're up against ... are going to require some creative solutions," he said.
He emphasized the role of partnerships, and the need to bring other parties to the table to discuss school safety and the opioid epidemic, issues Hoppe said involve public safety as well as mental health experts and medical companies.
"Look at public safety of our schools: how do we solve that issue?" he said. "A lot of people look at law enforcement to fix it, and it's far more dynamic than that."
Similarly with the opioid crisis, he said there needs to be far more people involved beyond just law enforcement.
"This is the type of stuff we really have to get involved with," Hoppe said.
Beyond just partnering with other departments and community organizations, he hopes to find creative ways to engage with the communities across the county.
He's worked in Wyoming for several years, in the department that is semi-famous around the state for its Twitter account that follows public safety issues with a sense of humor.
"We wanted to show the human side of law enforcement," he said. "... without that community involvement it makes it hard for public safety to do its job."