Hennepin County voters set races for attorney, sheriff

A side-by-side of two profile pictures of two candidates.
Retired judge Martha Holton Dimick (left) will face former chief public defender Mary Moriarty in the November general election for Hennepin County attorney.
Jaida Grey Eagle and Ben Hovland | Sahan Journal

Hennepin County voters on Tuesday narrowed a wide field of candidates in the open, nonpartisan race for county attorney and in a less crowded race for county sheriff.

Former chief public defender Mary Moriarty will face retired judge Martha Holton Dimick in the November general election for county attorney. 

Moriarty got 36 percent of the vote in Tuesday's seven-way primary. Dimick came in a distant second with 18 percent. 

Moriarty said she'll continue building her coalition ahead of the general election. 

"I think this is a resounding message from the voters of Hennepin County that they want to see public safety and they want to see reform and they understand that we can have both," Moriarty said.

Dimick, who also worked as a prosecutor, said her top priority is reducing violent crime.

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"Everybody wants to feel safe in their communities,” Dimick said. “Everywhere I've gone, every one of the cities I've been to, even out in the suburbs. People are saying they don't feel safe in their communities."

The winner of the general election this fall will replace Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who's retiring after 24 years in the position.

In the race for sheriff, a Hennepin County deputy was the runaway favorite in the primary contest.

Major Dawanna Witt, who oversees adult detention and court security in the county, won 57 percent of the vote in the three-way nonpartisan race. 

Witt will face Joseph Banks in the November general election. Banks, a bail bondsman and former police officer, won 22 percent Tuesday.

Witt vowed to hold violent offenders accountable while also implementing criminal justice reforms.

"People talk about having to do one or the other: either we’ve got to hold people accountable or we have to have more compassion,” Witt said. “Why can't we do all of that?" 

Either candidate would become Hennepin County's first Black sheriff in 170 years. 

The winner will replace Sheriff Dave Hutchinson — who did not run for re-election after totaling his squad car in a high-speed drunk driving crash.

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