Benewah County voters will have three competitive choices for sheriff this November and for some it will be a tough choice.
To help voters decide the Gazette Record reached out to Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger and asked him what he thinks makes a good sheriff.
Mr. Wolfinger, who will retire this year, was chosen based on his 37 years of law enforcement experience, popularity in his county, and not having endorsed a local candidate. He also served as the 2019 president of the Idaho Sheriff’s Association.
For Mr. Wolfinger, the choice for a good sheriff comes down to the content of their character and their law enforcement experience.
“I believe that all good leaders, not just sheriffs, have common traits. My top 12 are integrity, humility, purpose, vision, sense of humor, confidence, a servant’s heart, someone who reads, someone who takes time to recreate, and someone who is engaged with employees and knows the operation, someone who learns about related jobs and how they impact you and you impact them,” Mr. Wolfinger said.
As for experience, Mr. Wolfinger said it was his nearly 30 years of law enforcement, prior to being sheriff, that prepared him for the role.
“During that time I had either worked in or supervised every aspect of the sheriff’s office. That knowledge is invaluable,” he said.
Asked if the position of sheriff was appropriate for someone with little to no law enforcement experience he replied with an unequivocal “No”.
“No,” He said. “The position requires a solid background in law enforcement.”
Mr. Wolfinger said it is important for a sheriff to understand not only the jobs within the sheriff’s office but related positions as well.
“I believe that not only should they have an understanding of all of the jobs in the sheriff’s office, but also those jobs that interact with the office, such as the other elected county officials, city officials, etc.” he said.
Asked what advice he would give to a new sheriff, he advised them to act transparency and humility.
“Never forget from whence you came. Ask questions. Ask other sheriffs for help when you get those problems that are new to you. Chances are another sheriff has already dealt with something similar. Be genuine. Be humble,” he said.
Election Day is Nov. 3 this year. The Benewah County Sheriff candidates are Republican candidate BCSO
Undersheriff Tony Eells, Independent candidate Mike Ingersoll and Tami Holdahl who is actively campaigning as a write-in candidate.
Undersheriff Eells won the Republican primary with 1,015 votes. Ms. Holdahl placed second with 841 votes.