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Two more law enforcement veterans enter race for Hennepin County Sheriff

Minneapolis Police Lt. Mark Klukow and Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Major Dawanna Witt are both looking to replace Dave Hutchinson in November.

HENNEPIN COUNTY, Minn. — Editor's Note: The video above originally aired on KARE 11 on Jan. 20, 2022.

Less than two weeks after Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson announced he's not seeking reelection in November following a drunk driving arrest, two more candidates have entered the race for his job.

Mark Klukow, a 27-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, and Major Dawanna Witt of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office both threw their hats in the ring Monday.

Klukow, currently a lieutenant on the force, said in a press release that he's running for Hennepin County Sheriff "because I care about our communities. I've had a myriad of opportunities to work hand-in-hand with countless individuals representing the diversity of Hennepin County. I’ve learned that we all have a universal desire to feel safe in our communities, feel that our voices are heard, and a need to feel we are receiving equitable service."

Major Witt, who currently oversees the county's Court Security and Adult Detention divisions, also has decades of experience in law enforcement.

“My entire career has been in community service, always motivated by my desire to help others,” said Major Witt in a statement. “I want to make positive changes for the citizens of Hennepin County that balance the needs for increased public safety and sensible law enforcement reforms."

The field of candidates already includes Suwana Kirkland, currently the Director of Community Corrections in Dakota County, and Jai Hanson, who grew up in south Minneapolis and served with two metro area police departments over the last 14 years.

In June 2020, Klukow was one of 14 sworn Minneapolis police officers who released an open letter condemning the actions of officer Derek Chauvin, who was caught on video on May 25, 2020 with his knee on George Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as he struggled to breathe, and then died.

"Like us, Derek Chauvin took an oath to hold the sanctity of life most precious. Derek Chauvin failed as a human and stripped George Floyd of his dignity and life," the letter read. "This is not who we are."

According to a complaint history search on the Minneapolis Police Department website, a handful of complaints were filed against Klukow prior to 2012, though just one appeared to result in a single-day suspension for harassment. The allegations in the other complaints are not public.

Current Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson had faced mounting criticism to resign after he admitted to driving drunk and crashing his county-issued SUV on Dec. 8, 2021 on I-94 near Alexandria.

He was sentenced Dec. 20 to two years of probation on the drunk driving charge.

It wasn't until Feb. 2, 2022 that Hutchinson confirmed he wouldn't seek reelection and instead finish out the remainder of his term.

"I will not be resigning as Sheriff and will finish serving out my term in office," Hutchinson said in a statement. "I refuse to be pushed out of my role as Sheriff by political figures with alternative motives which would likely come at the cost of safety and security of the residents of Hennepin County. I will spend the remainder of my term ensuring that the residents of Hennepin County continue to get the service they expect from our office."

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