Previewing the candidates for Chippewa County Sheriff

Chippewa County residents will vote for a new sheriff this election
Published: Nov. 5, 2022 at 7:06 PM CDT
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CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) - There will be a new sheriff in Chippewa County, and residents will be casting their vote in the upcoming election on Tuesday.

Voters will be choosing between Democratic candidate Chris Kowalczyk and Republican candidate Travis Hakes.

Hakes, the former Elk Mound Police Chief, is running for the second time. He ran back in 2018 and decided to run again after the community support he received.

“I decided to run for sheriff because I had a lot of support from the community. A lot of people asked me to run, both current and former law enforcement supported me and wanted me to run.” Hakes said.

His opponent, Chris Kowalczyk, is currently working as an investigator for the sheriff’s office. He is the brother of retiring sheriff, Jim Kowalczyk.

Kowalczyk said his experience makes him a qualified candidate.

“My last three decades, working with the sheriff’s office employees, our communities, our court systems and our partner agencies I believe my success has proven that I have the qualifications and the qualities to be our next sheriff of Chippewa County.” Kowalczyk said.

From his experience working in the sheriff’s office, Kowalczyk said the biggest problems facing the county right now range from drug addiction to staffing.

“Number one challenge, obviously, is our drug issues and our mental health. We’re going to continue to combat that, and we’re going to continue to try to get help to the people that do have addiction and issues with drug dependency. Secondly, like I said, retention and recruitment of our employees.” Kowalczyk said.

Hakes said the biggest challenges in the county are drug related.

“The biggest problem we have is our narcotics and the narcotics abuse impacts every level of our county budget. And it displaces kids from homes at a rate faster than we can find foster care families to take them in. And I really think that we need to make a change.” Hakes said.

If elected, both candidates are looking towards the future.

“We’re going to continue to get involved with our schools. We already are involved with the Holcomb School District, our Lafayette School, Stillson School, we’re involved with that. We’re going to try to get more involved and become more involved in the community as a whole.” Kowalczyk said.

“If I get elected sheriff, I can tell you that I have an open door policy... I think that accountability, transparency and availability are things that we should expect from our next sheriff. And those are things that I guarantee I will do.” Hakes said.

Both Kowalczyk and Hakes encourage the community to get out and vote.