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Witt, Banks face off for sheriff

By: Stuart Sudak

Dawanna Witt, a major in the sheriff’s office, and Joseph Banks, most recently the acting police chief of the Lower Sioux Police Department, are vying to replace Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson.

The two garnered the most votes among three candidates in the August primary, allowing them to move on to the Nov. 8 general election. Witt was the top vote-getter with 57% of the vote, while Banks garnered 22%.

Dawanna Witt

Witt, 48, the DFL-endorsed candidate, has 22 years of law enforcement experience and leads the sheriff’s office’s largest bureau: Adult Detention and Court Services. She has also worked for the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office.

Her campaign focuses on five priorities: safe communities, reforms to reduce recidivism rates, collaboration with other departments, recruitment and retention of officers, and her experience.

Campaign Website

Joseph Banks

Banks, 51, has served at various times as chief of police for the Lower Sioux, the Upper Sioux, and the Morton, Minn., police departments. He has worked with the Twin Cities Recovery Project and the Black Butterfly project for young women.

His campaign platform includes lowering violent crime, community relations, a united law enforcement, diversity, and citizenship.

Campaign Website

As an Aug. 17 MPR article stated, whoever wins on Nov. 8 will take over the sheriff’s office at a time of rising concerns about violent crime and increased public scrutiny of law enforcement.

Witt told MPR that the public shouldn’t have to choose between law enforcement agencies pursuing criminals and ensuring that police act justly. She said people should have both.

Banks said he would work with other police agencies and the community to address and “stop the uptick in violent crimes” plaguing neighborhoods.