Primary Elections 2022: Hennepin County Sheriff

I’m starting with an easy one — though, hmm, how should I say this, this is one of those races that feels jinxed for me personally because I strongly supported Dave Hutchinson four years ago and while I do in fact think he was the lesser available evil compared to having Stanek in office from 2018 through 2022, the guy also drove while absolutely hammered, crashed his car while going 126 mph, and lied to try to cover it up. (Modern cars are a wonder of technology.) (And then yesterday another story about Hutch hit, which was about him appearing to engage in a pattern of deliberately overspending because the county was garnishing his paychecks to cover the cost of the car he crashed while shitfaced, and when I went just now to look for that link I found a NEW story about him sending racist and homophobic texts to subordinates.)

Anyway. In 2022, there are three people running, two of whom will advance to the general.

Jai Hanson
Dawanna Witt
Joseph Banks

Jai Hanson

Jai Hanson is a Bloomington police officer who was adopted from India as a child. Two minutes of reading his website made it pretty goddamn clear why I don’t think anyone should support him.

Hanson was disgusted by the video of officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, and he was disgusted at the destruction.

THESE TWO THINGS ARE NOT THE SAME AND EQUATING THEM IS HORRIFYING. (And yes, this framing absolutely suggests that these are two things of equal weight.)

Later, he drove to his parents’ house, and in their front window he saw a big sign. “SAY THEIR NAMES,” it read, listing people killed by police. Anti-police sentiment was everywhere. Now it felt like it was in his childhood home.

And Jai Hanson was furious. […] The sign felt flippant and anti-law enforcement. He drove off in a huff. Later, he wrote his dad an e-mail that the sign deeply offended him. In 14 years in law enforcement, he’d never heard his parents express sadness about a police officer getting killed.

His snit over this sign was less than a week after George Floyd was murdered. And regarding memorializing police officers: there are multiple big stone memorials on the capitol grounds and another one at the airport and that’s off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure there are others around the area. When Ron Ryan Jr. and Timothy Jones (and Jones’ dog) were murdered in 1994, the city mourned and their murderer was swiftly sentenced to life in prison.

And honestly: this is all I really need to know about Jai. He’s a police officer who immediately made a crime committed by a police officer all about his hurt feelings as a police officer. I would absolutely not vote for him, regardless of his other positions.

Today I saw a news story about a Somali woman who was named teacher of the year in 2020 who is now leaving teaching. One of the incidents mentioned in her reasons why: after she read the picture book Something Happened In My Town, which was written specifically to help young kids process the trauma of high-profile police violence happening in their community, Jai condemned this on his blog, inciting a huge amount of harassment. (And also, you know, complaining about reading a book that was written to help kids process trauma that the kids in our community experienced and his rationale for his bitching about this was, “it’ll teach them to be afraid of police.” Jai, kids in the Twin Cities are afraid of police because a police officer murdered a man in front of cameras while three other cops stood by, and then another police officer murdered a man because apparently she couldn’t tell her taser from her sidearm, and then a SWAT team murdered a man after breaking into his house in the middle of the night. Kids in the Twin Cities are afraid of police because the police have demonstrated that they’re really fucking dangerous to the community.

Dawanna Witt

Dawanna Witt works in the Sheriff’s office; she’s a Black woman who’s spent 22 years working in law enforcement. Her website emphasizes public safety and restoring trust. She’s endorsed by the DFL and I think all the DFL electeds who have endorsed in this race have endorsed Dawanna.

Worth noting for those who want someone law-and-order-y — Dawanna is endorsed by the DFL Senior Caucus, LaTrisha Vetaw, and Dean Phillips. She starts out by talking about prioritizing violent crime. So like: you’ll get that. There’s no option that isn’t that. With Dawanna you can have that but without the whining and “actually, it’s police officers who are the real victims” bullshit of Jai.

Joseph Banks

Two weeks ago, a friend noticed that Joseph Banks had an events calendar on his website that had zero Joseph Banks events but was displaying all upcoming Yankees games. He’s now fixed that, but the “Become a Volunteer!” button on his Get Involved page says, “I’m a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It’s easy. Just click “Edit Text” or double click me to add your own content and make changes to the font. I’m a great place for you to tell a story and let your users know a little more about you.”

Joseph ran four years ago and my main comment on him at the time was that he hadn’t seemed to get much traction. That seems to be true this time, as well. I watched the LWV forum for Sheriff candidates and Joseph seems smart and committed, but so does Dawanna.

I would vote for Dawanna in the primary and I would vote for whoever isn’t Jai Hanson in the general election. Fingers crossed that the next Hennepin County Sheriff is smart enough to stay at the hotel instead of driving home shitfaced and also won’t be a racist Trump supporter! Seriously the lowest of low bars. The absolute lowest.


In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven. You will also be able to get them from Uncle Hugo’s when it reopens at 2716 E 31st St! (and maybe by mail order now? I’m not sure how much mail order Don is doing while getting ready to re-open.)

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded (or, in the case of the Movement Voter fundraiser, continuing to raise money past their goal). I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and that fundraiser is still active. (Also, I owe some embarrassing readings of my juvenalia to the Internet.)

I also went looking and found two DonorsChoose fundraisers for classrooms at Bethune Community School in North Minneapolis: math manipulatives for pre-K students (this is such a good idea) and a nice book organizer for a first-grade classroom where the shelving is coming apart.

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2 thoughts on “Primary Elections 2022: Hennepin County Sheriff

    • Soooooooooooo honestly in the primary I was basically thinking, “I think Witt has a better shot than Banks at beating Hanson,” and now that Hanson didn’t make it to the final ballot (YAY) I’m thinking I want to revisit this race at least a little. I am not sure how much my thoughts matter, because Witt has the DFL endorsement and as far as I can tell, Banks isn’t endorsed by anyone, but I do want to go look at both sites again and watch some of Banks’ videos to see if I wind up thinking “actually, he sounds fantastic” or “HA omg he’s actually the WORST” and fill in a bit more information.

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