Freeborn County Sheriff candidates discuss issues during forum event

(ABC 6 News) – We are just weeks away from the November midterm elections and we’re following several local races here in southeast Minnesota and northern Iowa.

The Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce hosted candidate forums for the upcoming election.

There are a lot of important local races on the ballot this year, especially for those in Albert Lea.

Monday evening, the public heard from candidates for county commissioner districts 1, 2, and 5. State Senate District 23 candidates and maybe one of the biggest races here locally — for Freeborn County sheriff.

Current Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag is retiring after 29 years, leaving the spot open to two candidates, Jeffrey Strom and Ryan Shea.

Both have many years of experience in law enforcement, Shea in the Freeborn County sheriff’s office and Strom with the Albert Lea Police department.

One of the biggest issues across the country right now is drugs, especially fentanyl.

Both candidates were asked how they would tackle the drug problem if they were elected to be freeborn county sheriff.

“Educating our youth is the most vital piece of it, but we also need to educate the public as well. Just earlier today I put a post out on the Facebook page for the sheriff’s office informing the public about rainbow fentanyl. It’s a dangerous thing fentanyl is and that’s one of the major reasons people are overdosing is because fentanyl is getting laced into a lot of different things,” Shea said.

“But we need to get together, all of the disciplines from the county, and figure out a way that we can deal with this on the same level so somebody’s not saying oh that’s your problem, this is your problem. This is all of our problems. We all have to deal with this. There are programs out there for the Narcan, there’s the distribution of the Narcan,” said Strom.

The public also heard discussions from Minnesota State Senate District 23 candidates Gene Dornink and Brandon Lawhead along with House Representatives District 23A candidates Peggy Bennett and Mary Hinnenkamp.

On Tuesday, the public will get a chance to hear from Albert Lea school board candidates and on Wednesday, candidates for city council and mayor.

The public is encouraged to attend these forums at city hall in Albert Lea.