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The race is on for the new Pennington County Sheriff

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 5:47 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - There’s a new sheriff in town, or, at least there’s about to be.

Current Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom will not be running for re-election in 2022.

Now, two candidates are in the race for the position.

Current Chief Deputy Mueller started his career at the sheriff’s department when he was 21.

After years in law enforcement, Mueller believes he has what it takes to serve the community.

“Community safety is my number one priority. I’ve been working hard to keep this community safe for my entire career, all 26 years, I’m going to continue to do that as your next sheriff and I’m excited about this opportunity today,” said Mueller.

An opportunity endorsed by the current sheriff.

“You want a good leader to be at the helm of your organization and Brian is prepared to do that,” said Thom.

However, Mueller will not run unopposed.

Ryan Mechaley wants to see new blood in the sheriff’s department after a tradition of sheriffs picking their successors.

Mechaley held different public safety roles in the community including 15 years working for the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

Prior to that, he was a firefighter and EMT.

His goal is to make a change on a large scale.

“I think that there’s a clear delineation between me and the other candidate that’s come and I think one is I do have the public safety background, but more importantly, for the taxpayer’s money, I’ve got the business background and running and owning a small business. Being that fiscally conservative voice for their money,” said Mechaley.

Mechaley said sticking with the current status quo is no longer cutting it.

“We need to be progressing forward, we need to be wiser with our tax dollars, and have an impact. The first rule of business is don’t throw money at bad money. Well, we’re continuing to see our budgets increase, but our crimes are increasing with it at an exponential rate and that’s one thing I want to change,” said Mechaley.

Mechaley believes collaboration with Pennington County communities and law enforcement is key, something Mueller agrees with.

“And I don’t have all of the answers, you know, I would love to hear from you, hear from people in our community about what their thoughts are about the sheriff’s office, what they think we can do better, their ideas and that’s a big part of a being a public servant,” said Mueller then adding, “he’s going to run his campaign and I’m going to run mine and I think those differences will be clear.”

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