Election 2020: Candidates for Ingham County Sheriff

Lansing State Journal

Across Greater Lansing, voters have begun to cast ballots for the 2020 stategeneral election . Winners of the primary advance to the 2020 general election on Nov. 3.

LSJ asked area candidates running for office to share their backgrounds, and answer a few questions on major topics to aid voters in their decision. Read excerpts from their answers below.

Scott Wriggelsworth | Democrat (incumbent)

Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth

Wriggelsworth lives in Holt with his son, Jake. He is a current commissioner on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission and is active in Rotary Club, the Holt School Business Alliance, 100 Club Board President, Ho Education Foundation and Lansing Area Safety Council (just to name a few).

He has 27 years in law enforcement, the last 3.5 as sheriff, and is a graduate of the 226 session of the FBI National Academy. He was elected sheriff in 2016.

Daniel Wells | Republican

No response.

Candidates answer questions on major topics

Have you met with members of diverse populations in the community you plant to serve? If yes, briefly share what you learned. If not, why not?

Wriggelsworth: I do this regularly both in my professional and personal life. Undoubtedly there needs to be improvements made in the all systems of government to ensure equal opportunity for all. Commitments are needed fro both the public and private sectors to eliminate racism in any form, wherever it may be.

Wells: No response.

What steps are needed to address systemic racism and police brutality in the county sheriffs office? Please commit to a timetable for implementing any changes.

Wriggelsworth: As I stand firm in saying there is neither systematic racism or police brutality occurring at the Ingham County Sheriff's Office. Holding employees accountable to our mission statement, reviewing every use of force incident, engaging our community, diversifying our workforce and being bold in new ideas. The Sheriff's Office has changed significantly since I took office on 1-1-2017, not just in the past few weeks.

Wells: No response.

With additional financial pressures after the COVID-19 pandemic, budget cuts are likely. Which services would you reduce or eliminate and why?

Wriggelsworth: None of the Sheriff's Office services should be cut. In both corrections and law enforcement, the battle in fighting this pandemic is firmly on our shoulders. Policies and practices in the jail, as well as on the street, to combat COVID-19, and keep it contained: We have been on the front lines and remain there. We don't get to work from home, or let work stack up. Law enforcement and corrections is a 24/7/365 operation and our jobs got way more complicated with COVID-19. We were hoping we were going to get back to some normalcy, but it appears COVID is making a comeback, and now.

Wells: No response.

Does the sheriffs office provide sufficient public data for the citizens to accurately judge its interactions with the diverse communities it serves? If yes, explain what data is provided. If not, what would you do to make changes?

Wriggelsworth: Yes. We pride ourselves on our relationships with local media, involvement in diverse community groups to share what we are doing, and responsiveness when inquires/complaints are made. We are open about our processes to file complaints against employees, timeliness in investigating them, and follow up with the complainant with a resolution. With respect to the Office of Sheriff and being an elected official, the voting public is the best gauge of how both the Sheriff, and the Sheriffs Office are doing serving the public. In my opinion, overall the residents of Ingham County are happy with the work we are doing.

Wells: No response.

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Will you involve a citizen's group in reviewing complaints about deputy conduct and will you commit to diversity on that panel at a level that reflects the diversity of the county you serve?

Wriggelsworth: I do not plan to create a citizen review board to handle complaints against deputies. Holding employees accountable for their actions is what the public elects me to do. I pride myself on doing that well and will continue to as long as I am Sheriff.

Wells: No response.   

Are you satisfied with operations at the county jail? If not, what would you change? Please include a timetable.

Wriggelsworth: Its called corrections, not incarcerations. Increasing programming, and opportunities for inmates to improve their decision making, mental health, and physical health (having a substance use disorder) are keys to their success. We engage inmates through a multitude of programs, specialty courts, and other services to give them the best chance to stay out of jail, and lower the recidivism rate in this county.

Wells: No response.

The above information was compiled from questionnaires emailed to each candidate. If you have questions about our process, email opinions@lsj.com. To support work like this, consider subscribing. For more information, visit LSJ.com/subscribe.