Candidates for Walworth County Sheriff Seek Support

Editor’s note: The Banner gave the candidates for Walworth County Sheriff an opportunity to provide a final statement before Tuesday’s primary election. The submissions are printed below. Since there are no candidates for the office on the Democratic ballot the winner of this election will be installed as the next sheriff. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order by surname.

Editor’s note update: Due to concerns expressed on behalf of both candidates, the Banner has reviewed this post in accordance with our policies. We have concluded that there were some errors in judgment in the drafting of our original article, in that some comments that were received after the deadline were added. Consequently we are now publishing the submissions that were received from both campaigns by the deadline that was communicated to them. We regret this error and the resulting confusion.

Dave Gerber for Walworth County Sheriff

With 27 years of experience in law enforcement and my current position as Undersheriff, I am confident that I can continue to serve the people of Walworth County with integrity, professionalism, and compassion. I have been promoted through the ranks in my career.  I have served on many specialty teams such as SWAT, Dive Team, and Honor Guard. I am endorsed by the current Sheriff, past Sheriff, surrounding County Sheriffs, Walworth County District Attorney, many local current and retired police chiefs, and many others.  I have been rated consistently as a “high level performer” on annual evaluations throughout my career, by many supervisors.  I will continue that strong work ethic as your next Sheriff.  I possess immediate readiness to serve as your next Sheriff.  I have the required education, advanced training, experience, and references required to be a Police Chief and Sheriff.  My opponent does not.  This is what sets me apart from my opponent.

My selection for Undersheriff is Tom Hausner who has over 40 years of law enforcement experience.  He is the Commander of the Geneva Lake Police Department, retired Sergeant with the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office, and a United States Marine Corps veteran.  Tom served 24 years on the SWAT team, 12 years as SWAT commander. Tom has spent his career at the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office as a respected leader and understands our entire operation including Jail Operations and 911 dispatch. His lifelong history with the department and proven ability as a leader were paramount in my decision to select Tom. Tom has executive level experience leading the Geneva Lake Law Enforcement Agency as Commander/Chief and in the private sector for 24 years as Director of Security and Operations at Alpine Valley Music Theatre.  Tom is a graduate of the FBI – National Academy and numerous other state and national law enforcement schools.  He and I possess immediate readiness to lead the Sheriff’s Office into the future.  This inherent knowledge of the Sheriff Office is what sets Tom apart from my opponent’s selection as Undersheriff who does not possess any knowledge of Sheriff’s Office operations and has never worked for our agency. 

Some of my endorsements include:

Sheriff Kurt Picknell – Walworth County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff David Graves – Walworth County Sheriff’s Office (retired)

Zeke Weidenfeld – Walworth County District Attorney

Sheriff David Beth – Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Christopher Schmaling – Racine County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Troy Knudson – Rock County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Eric Severson – Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Cory Roeseler – Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office

David Bretl –Walworth County Administrator (retired)

Nancy Russell – Chair – Walworth County Board of Supervisors (retired)

Rick Stacey – Chair – Walworth County Board of Supervisors

Chief Jeremy Swendrowski – Village of East Troy Police Department

Chief James Hansen – Delavan/Darien Police Department

Chief Joel Christensen – City of Elkhorn Police Department

Chief Brad Buchholz – Village of Sharon Police Department

Chief Joseph Balog – Village of Genoa City Police Department

Chief Jeff Cates – Village of Fontana Police Department

Chief Matthew Kiederlen – UW Whitewater Police Department

Chief Steve Cole – Bloomfield Police Department

Commander Thomas Hausner – Geneva Lake Police Department

John Marra –Chief of Police Genoa City Police Department (retried)

Jim Kimpinski – Police Chief Twin Lakes Police Department (retired)

Tom Whowell – President Village of Fontana (retired)

Alan Boyes – Chief of Police Village of East Troy Police (retired)

Father Lucien Gaudrault – Retired Chaplain Walworth Co Sheriff’s Office

Brother Desales Wisnewski – Retired Chaplain Walworth Co Sheriff’s Office

Mel Niewenhouse – retired Mayor – City of Delavan

Kristy Secord – Walworth County Clerk of Courts

Michelle Jacobs – Walworth County Register of Deeds

Valerie Etzel – Walworth County Treasurer

Walworth County Sheriff Kurt Picknell states “Undersheriff Dave Gerber is the most qualified in every way to be the next Sheriff of Walworth County. He has the education, experience and dedication serving and protecting others. Dave has a highly distinguished law enforcement career ready to lead the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office.”

Walworth County Sheriff David Graves (retired) states “Undersheriff Dave Gerber is running to be the next Walworth County Sheriff. Undersheriff Gerber has the education, administrative experience, and moral compass to move seamlessly into the top position as the next Sheriff of Walworth County. As a 42-year veteran of Walworth County law enforcement which includes 14 as Walworth County Sheriff, I had the opportunity to watch many deputies grow within the profession.  Undersheriff Gerber rose through the ranks, accepting more responsibility with every new assignment and promotion. I came to admire his ability to interact with other employees as well as our outside law enforcement partners. Undersheriff Gerber is dedicated to keeping our county a safe place for all of its residents and visitors.  Undersheriff Dave Gerber is the best choice for Walworth County Sheriff. Please join me in endorsing and voting for Undersheriff Dave Gerber for Walworth County Sheriff.  You’ll be glad you did!”

As your Sheriff, I will continue to uphold the 183-year tradition of integrity, excellence, professionalism, and compassion.  My number one priority will be the Safety, Security, and Service to the Citizens of Walworth County.  Walworth County has a low crime rate and I intend to keep it that way. I will honor my oath to support the Constitutional rights of all our citizens and hold criminals accountable by continuing a strong partnership with all Law Enforcement agencies in Walworth County, along with our District Attorney’s Office and the Circuit Courts. I will always support all first responders for their hard work and dedication to the citizens we serve.  We will enhance interoperability among all first responders in Walworth County in terms of communication and records management.  I will continue to ensure fiscal responsibility within our annual budget.  I will ensure all employees continue to receive the highest level of training in order to provide the highest level of service to the citizens of Walworth County.  I will continue to partner with all Law Enforcement agencies in the County to ensure we remain a safe place to live, work, and play.  Our agency has worked hard to achieve accreditation through the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Accreditation Group (WILEAG) and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) and I will ensure our accreditation status continues.  A police agency is most effective when it engages and partners with its community members.  I plan to continue our community outreach efforts and build stronger relationships with our citizens.  Finally, I have worked tirelessly for decades providing the needed training and equipment for our employees and strongly support our agency in recruiting and retaining the best employees to serve our citizens.

Tom Hausner and I have the REQUIRED experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities to immediately lead the agency into the future.  I am proud to serve alongside our 214 employees within the Sheriff’s Office and all law enforcement officers and first responders in Walworth County.  I am equally proud to serve with all of our dedicated County employees who serve Walworth County every day.  Having served in the various ranks and specialty teams and most recently as your Undersheriff, the transition to Sheriff will be seamless.  I look forward to being your next Sheriff.  I will continue to apply my education and experience along with integrity, compassion, and professionalism in serving the citizens of Walworth County.  I ask for your support and prayers.  Please vote GERBER for Sheriff next Tuesday August 9th, 2022.

Craig Konopski for Walworth County Sheriff

Craig Konopski for Walworth County Sheriff

Just who is Craig Konopski?

Craig is one of two candidates that are running for the seat of Walworth County Sheriff that are replacing current sheriff Kurt Picknell who is retiring after serving his second term effective 1/6/2023.

Both Craig and his opponent are running on the conservative ballet with nobody on the liberal ballet. Thus, the August 9th primary vote is more important than a standard election year. It will eliminate one of the candidates.

For those of you that have yet to have the pleasure of meeting Craig in person, let’s get to know him, his chosen running mate for undersheriff, Daniel Derrick, and what they stand for as it matters for Walworth County justice and citizen safety.

Craig, his wife Lisa, of over 29years, have made Walworth County their home for the past 21yrs. During this time they have raised their now adult son Joe and been active in the community and created many long lasting friends and relationships.

On a professional level, Craig is a 13 year Navy combat Veteran, serving on the U.S.S Wisconsin in Desert Storm. Craig is bringing 24 combined years of law enforcement experience, 21 within Walworth Co Sheriff’s Department; 14 yrs as a Deputy on patrol then promoted 7 yrs ago to the detective bureau of which he currently serves as a detective. In addition he has been a member of the Walworth County Deputy Sheriff’s Association (WCDSA) since 2002. It is the mission of the WDSA to provide representation to the sworn deputies of the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office. The WCDSA provides services in the area of contract negotiations with Walworth County in regards to wages, benefits, and working conditions. Currently representing 70 sworn personal consisting of deputies, sergeants, and detectives. His seats within the WCDSA have included Bargaining & Grievance chairman for 7 years, VP for 4 years and currently as President. These years of experience have brought Craig to know firsthand what his department’s men and women are looking for in support and training.

Craig had decided to run for the Sheriff because he could no longer stand seeing the continual decline of the Walworth County Sheriffs office that once was considered elite within the state. He has been a witness to this decline rapidly increasing over the past 8 years. There has been a high volume of turnover in the jail, numerous veteran deputies leaving prematurely, communication teams (911 operators) being forced into long hours due to lack of staffing, internal enforcement departments (i.e. drug & investigation units) under staffed as well as crucial training being by passed (i.e. active shooter, range & arrest tactics) in order to keep deputies on the road. These are just a hand full of concerns that Craig could not stand by for anymore knowing how it affects the overall safety of the people in the community that he and his family have called home themselves of over 20 years and will continue for many years to come.

The perception of law enforcement has agreeably changed over the years however, it is not a matter of lack of people wanting to become officers, jailers or dispatchers, but, it has become an issue of individuals wanting to work within our agency. We have lost our elite status to become an agency known for favoritism, lack of accountability within and poor training.

As sheriff, one of his focuses is to rebuild our agencies reputation, hold every individual accountable and to the same standards. Craig will have the jailers and deputies trained properly to work and handle the issues of society today as well as tomorrow vs. merely the state minimum requirements. We have and have had the resources to do this however, over the years only minimum has been even offered to employees. Our men and women need and deserve the best, most up to date training. When they are properly taken care of and equipped, they can better give the families of our county the protection they deserve. In turn of proper accountability it will also enable our agency to rebuild faded relationships with other community offices such as local police, fire & EMS and surrounding counties as well.

It may sound like Craig’s only focus is within the buildings of the Sheriff’s office. As an active, boots on the ground deputy, he knows that the 1st change needs to happen AT ground zero. The changes and improvements made here will rapidly move throughout our counties communities; families, neighborhoods, schools, churches, businesses, etc.

In addition to Craig’s dedication to run for the Sheriffs seat, he has done something rare. He had gone outside of his agency for an undersheriff. After months of deep thought and careful consideration to what our county needs, he approached Dan Derrick to join him if elected to serve as undersheriff.

Dan is a native to Lake Geneva. He and his wife of 13 years, Haley, are proudly raising their young daughter here as well. Dan has been with the Lake Geneva Police Dept for over 30 years. He has been a k-9 officer, member of the SWAT team serving as the assistant commander, drug investigator and graduate of the Northwestern School of Staff and Command. He shares in Craig’s convictions of protecting others within the county. Dan is well rounded in his career, leadership and interpersonal skills to assist with aligning the Sheriff’s department with law and order. His fresh eyes in the department will assist Craig in implementing the proper changes needed.

Together they are knowledgeable of the people within their communities and surrounding departments of which they actively serve. They will both admit that neither of them are politicians, rather, they are active duty officers which gives them the boots on the ground knowledge of what the people of Walworth County want. They look forward to serving together with a broader ability to bring Honor Dedication & Safety to the people of Walworth County!

Please, to make our County Elite again & protect the safety and well being of our county we all call home, Vote Konopski for Sheriff on Tuesday, August 9th.

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