Thank you very much for your ongoing support!
Let me apologize for the length and focus of this blog. Although I am extremely happy with the continued successes of our campaign's efforts, there have been rough spots along the way. The campaign trail has certainly presented it's ugly underbelly as people immaturely steal or vandalize signs, create lies or even naively just choose to believe rumors rather than research the truth. It will continue to be our team's mission to stay on the high road and provide the facts rather than engage in meaningless banter.
Recently, there has been some discussion about the county rules as it relates to the mandatory leave of absence that I am taking and the use of vacation time etc. Because I want our supporters and all voters to be educated and know the TRUTH, I am going to lay out several questions that have been recently raised along with the truthful answers. Below are four of the questions being raised, but please contact us if you have ANY questions that you want answered.
1) Is it true that you have to take an unpaid leave of absence during your campaign run?
Yes. The current Anoka County rules require that any (non-elected) county employee who chooses to run for an elected position within Anoka County government take a leave of absence from work. The employee may use remaining vacation time on the books during the leave.
2) Were you allowed to carry over more vacation time than is typical?
Yes. As the Project Manager for the Sheriff's Office and Regional Forensics Lab building project, I put in extensive hours (approximately 800 hours over my schedule) to ensure that the project was completed correctly, on time and under budget. I worked long days (without overtime or compensation) during the project because I knew the project needed my focused attention. As the only office representative managing the task, there would have been a significant impact on the project if I chose to leave town or enjoy a vacation. Therefore, I was told that there were two options available:
1) Ask for an exception to the typical county rule governing vacation hour annual carry over. This exception has been granted under numerous other circumstances to employees around the county.
2) Choose to voluntarily lose the vacation time that I had accrued, but not used, and subject myself to further sacrifice for the benefit of the county.
I opted to request the exception so that my family could make up for lost time and take a significant family vacation during the summer of 2010.
I did continue to conserve my vacation after the building project was completed in preparation for the summer. I remained mindful that no one, including the Sheriff himself, knew if the Sheriff was firmly going to seek re-election or not. I wanted to be prepared for whatever the future held.
An effective leader plans for what is possible. In Risk Management there is an expression; "If it can be predicted, it can be prevented".
In many cases, proper planning has even defined leaders.
I planned to have enough vacation balance for a great family vacation (which was even planned out) or be ready to run for office if the Sheriff opted to not run again. Needless to say, when Sheriff Andersohn made his announcement that he would not seek re-election, our vacation plans were once again put on hold. For the record- I have since exhausted my vacation hours and am not enjoying the luxury of an income.
3) Were any county rules related to vacation time "stretched" to benefit your run for office?
No. As I wrote, the county rules, as well as the exception allowances are clearly laid out. The county practice of allowing exceptions to the carry over limit is specifically designed for unusual circumstances. Being trusted to be the Project Manager for the first large scale, multi-divisional facility project in the 153 year history of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office is at a minimum, unusual. Although challenging, It was also an honor to be trusted with this project.
This exception to vacation carry over had NOTHING to do with my run for elected office. No one granted me any favors, and I didn't even know I would be seeking election at the time I filed for the exception.
I do not think it is unreasonable to try and keep the benefit (vacation hours) that I had earned but had been unable to use while remaining effective in my assigned task.
4) Did you know the current Sheriff wasn't going to run for re-election before other members of your office?
Absolutely not. The reality is that all of the office staff learned of the Sheriff's decision within minutes of everyone else. During a command staff meeting, Sheriff Andersohn told us that he was not going to seek re-election. Moments later, he sent an e-mail to the rest of the staff that he had previously drafted.
It was his strong desire to be fair and equitable to everyone involved as it was unclear if there might be one or fifteen members of the office choosing to run for Sheriff. Immediately after the Sheriff's announcement; I announced that I intended to run for office. The decision to run (when Sheriff Andersohn retired) was made with my family a few years ago.
Thank you for taking the time to read this information; especially if you were wondering about these topics. It is our team's goal to ensure that the voters get the information they deserve so that they may make an informed decision on November 2nd.
If anyone has any other questions, please ask. I do not have any secrets that I am concealing and I truly appreciate those of you who have already taken the time to ask these questions rather than believe the rumors being spread. Sadly, it can just be simpler for others to choose to spread lies rather than learn the truth.
We will continue to push forward along the "high road" and ignore when others try to attack us rather than promote their own agenda. Although we consider the attacks on my integrity absurd, I will continue to address the concerns raised by any of our citizens and our supporters (present & future).
You all deserve to know the truth!
I believe that the focus should be on the candidates and our proven abilities, backgrounds and our plans for the future rather than on trying to taint reality by fabricating rumors and negative implications.
A quick note to the Stuart for Sheriff supporters:
Stay on the high road; it will prevail!!