Dinges to run as Independent for Lincoln County Sheriff
Will face incumbent Schneider in November
By Tina L. Scott
LINCOLN COUNTY – Garrett Dinges of Merrill filed papers and announced he will run as an Independent candidate for Lincoln County Sheriff on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Dinges will face off against incumbent Ken Schneider, who won against Grant Peterson in the Aug. 9 Partisan Primary election.
“The time is right for new leadership and direction for Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office,” Dinges said when asked why he is running. “I believe it is a privilege and not an entitlement to be Sheriff. Every citizen of Lincoln County deserves to live in a safe community and be served by a law enforcement agency that’s held accountable to the same standards and rules as the community they serve.”
“I am not a politician. I am not in politics. I am just an average Joe, an ordinary citizen,” he said.
Dinges sees this as an advantage, combined with his unique background. He has worked as a psychiatric technician who worked with mentally ill patients on a psychiatric ward, followed by six years working as an Emergency Medical Technician on an ambulance in Tomahawk, and then more than 20 years working as a Correctional Officer.
Currently, he works in Social Services as an Economic Support Specialist.
“With this background, I have a diverse and different perspective than those that have been working for decades in this current administration,” he said. “It’s time that Lincoln County has a leader that can think outside of the box for the community they serve.”
Dinges moved to Merrill from Kenosha in 1984 with his parents, Ed and Sharon, and his brother, Eddie, when they purchased the tavern/eatery on Hwy. 64 west of Merrill, now long known as Ed & Sharon’s, which just celebrated 38 years in business.
A graduate of Merrill High School, Dinges lived in Tomahawk for seven years after graduation, where he met his wife, Amy. They now live in Merrill and will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this year. They have one son, Gavin, age 19, attending UW-Stevens Point.
“My father, Ed, was instrumental in getting the Corning Volunteer Fire Department off the ground, along with Bob and Stan Wendt and Gene Kleinschmidt,” Dinges said. “I got all of my values and who I am from both my parents by watching all the work over the years they spent to establish the business and anything else they did.”
“In 2003, my dad passed away unexpectedly, which had a strong impact on my life,” Dinges said. “Every day I try to be half the man that he was and try to pass his influence on to my son.”
When asked the biggest challenges in the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office currently, and how he proposes to address them, Dinges enumerated two he considers big ones:
• “Cut extensive waste of taxpayers’ dollars by targeting the abusive activity and spending of current command staff by holding accountability of each dollar spent without reducing services to the community. People tend to not spend other people’s money as carefully as they spend their own,” he said. “I will examine every line item of the budget to make sure the taxpayers get the quality service they deserve and paid for.”
• “Restoring relationships between the other local law enforcement agencies and with Social Services by having clear lines of communications that have been lacking. One idea would be to integrate multi-jurisdictional Special Response Team (SRT) between law-enforcement agencies. With recent events that happened in Uvalde, Texas, and the current circumstances surrounding the lack of communication there between all agencies, that is a major concern,” he said. “In Lincoln County, all schools are located in the City’s jurisdictions. As Sheriff, I refuse to let this (what happened in Uvalde) happen in this County.”
“Having unequivocal communications between social workers and law-enforcement officers can have an impact on intervention strategies and conflict resolutions throughout our community,” Dinges said. “Serving the public is an honest deed no matter how it’s done. Restoring the lack of relationships between these agencies can provide enhanced knowledge and skills related to mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence present in our community.”
“It’s time to let go of past records of wrongs between agencies. When an administration holds grudges, it has a ripple effect throughout their subordinates, which becomes a learned and acceptable behavior,” he said. “I will become that leader people can look to and trust.”
“The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results,” Dinges said. “That is what Lincoln County has done for decades.”
He said he wants to change that with “outside the box” thinking.
Dinges is interacting with citizens who have questions via his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dingesforsheriff.