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Familiar names to appear on 2014 ballot

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County residents will see a pair of familiar names on the 2014 ballot in November.

County Attorney Kathy Kusz has announced her candidacy as county attorney, and Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening is once again running for sheriff.

Kusz was appointed as county attorney two years ago by the Nobles County Board of Commissioners when then-County Attorney Gordon Moore was sworn in as judge in the Minnesota Fifth Judicial District. Since Kusz was appointed when she took office, this will be the first time her name will appear on the ballot.

“I think when I was first appointed, the commissioners were looking for someone that would be here for more than just the two years and would want to run for election,” Kusz said. “I knew that I wanted to be here to stay and that I would run.”

Kusz has more than 25 years of experience working in a county attorney office. She started as assistant county attorney in Lyon County, and has now been in Nobles County for 20 years.

“Even though I’m not originally from Nobles County, I’ve been here for 20 years, and I’ve really gotten to know the people of Nobles County,” she said.

“I think if there was any point in time to be running — this is the most exciting time,” she added. “I think Nobles County is going through a lot of exciting changes, especially with having a basically all-new Nobles County board. I think now is a time where we can re-cast ourselves and be more responsive, and hear what people need and what can be done in the community.”

Looking forward, Kusz plans to cross-train her staff and make them more versatile in their work.

“I believe people are not indispensable, and that when I do walk out that door for the final time, I hope my staff can continue the work without missing a beat,” Kusz said.

Wilkening will be seeking his fifth term as county sheriff. He began his service in Nobles County as a deputy in 1987, and in 1998 he ran for the sheriff’s position. He officially took office in 1999.

Wilkening discussed some of the projects the sheriff’s office is aiming to accomplish within the department in next few months.

“I’d like to add an addition to the garage here for the cars, so hopefully we can start work on that,” Wilkening said. “We’re also going to replace all of the key pads on the doors in the building. Right now you have to punch in a code to get in and out of places, and if we have an emergency situation happen — for example, in the courtroom — entering a key pad isn’t the safest, so we’re looking at getting key fobs.”

Wilkening is also looking to add a new program to the department, Project Lifesaver, that will provide equipment and training to quickly locate and rescue “at risk” individuals with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s or autism.

“I’ve wanted to get this program here for a long time,” Wilkening said. “There’s a wrist band with a tracking device in it that a child or adult can wear. If they wander off or get lost, they can be easily found.”

Wilkening is in the process of searching for various grants to get funding for the program.

“It’s one of those things where you either have the money or you have to raise the money, so we’re working on it,” Wilkening said.

Wilkening added that he plans on continuing to improve upon getting the message out about wearing seat belts, driving safely and promote safety within the community.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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