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Miner County sheriff challenged for first time in 18 years

HOWARD — For the past 18 years, Lanny Klinkhammer has been the sheriff in Miner County, and no one has ever challenged him in an election.

But on Tuesday, Miner County voters will have three options for the position, as Sheriff's Deputy Rob Eggert and retired truck driver James Stainbrook are also running for sheriff.

Klinkhammer said that when he found out he'd have two opponents in the upcoming election, he wasn't especially concerned.

"I didn't really care. I was kind of surprised, but everybody has the right to run," he said.

Both Eggert and Stainbrook said that words of encouragement from community members motivated them to run.

"It's always been my goal to be sheriff at some point," said Eggert, who's worked in law enforcement for 29 years (11 in Minnehaha County and 18 in Miner County). "I've received a lot of words of support prior to taking out a petition, and I thought it was the right time to pursue my goal."

Eggert said that his degree in criminal justice and his experience working in differently-sized jurisdictions make him qualified for the job and that, if elected, he'd work to make sure that the office gets more involved in the county's school and that it stays up to date on technology and training.

"I kind of compare it to the medical field. You always want to keep looking forward and keep up to date on the newest trends and best practices; continue to evaluate what's working and what's not working," he said.

Stainbrook, meanwhile, said that he's been encouraged to run not because he wants to be sheriff, but because he thinks the sheriff's office and much of Miner County are not currently being run well.

"Lanny's been a bad sheriff for years, and it's because nobody wants the job," Stainbrook said. "That's why he's in there. He's willing to sit there and take the money for doing the job without doing anything."

Stainbrook said that Klinkhammer doesn't give out traffic tickets and that he and the sheriff's deputies aren't properly trained. He also said that he personally has been in three accidents in which another driver was at fault, but that he's had a hard time collecting on the insurance because tickets weren't issued to those other drivers.

"We're going to learn how to do this correctly. I'm not going to just sit there and be the sheriff," Stainbrook said. "The deputies are going to learn how to do this stuff, and if they don't want to go to school and learn how to do it, they can hit the road. Because someday, somebody's going to get killed."

Klinkhammer said that nothing Stainbrook has accused him of is accurate.

"There's no truth to that. He has his own issues," Klinkhammer said. "The citizens of Miner County know who he is and what he stands for."

Stainbrook said that if Eggert were elected, he doubted any updates would actually be made. Klinkhammer said that during his time as sheriff, the sheriff's department has consistently been updated on new technology and training programs.

"It all comes down to working as a team. Not one person does it all," he said. "These past 18 years, I feel that I've done a good job. I'm a good listener to people and their concerns, and I will continue to do that."