Meade County sheriff faces primary challenge

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STURGIS, S.D. (KOTA TV) Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin has served for nearly three decades and this June faces a challenge in the GOP primary.

He say he lives and breathes his position.

"It's not a job for me," he says. "It's my life."

But this year he's facing a challenge from retired DCI agent Pat West.

"I think it's time for a new sheriff to come in with some new ideas," says West.

No democrat has filed for the office so Republican voters will likely decide the contest. Meade County is the largest in the state and the sheriff oversees a staff of 54 with 16 sworn deputies and a budget of $4.6 million.

Merwin, a 1977 Sturgis Brown High School graduate, says he's focused on fiscal responsibility.

"I take the spending here very seriously," he says. "I understand tax dollars. I'm a tax payer and I don't want to see our taxes go through the roof. So I try to get the most bang for the buck."

West spent 25 years in law enforcement and retired as the Department of Criminal Investigation's top West River agent.

"It's important for me to share my experience and my background and my education and field work with the folks at the Meade County Sheriff's Office," he says. "I would like to come in and mentor those people."

The candidates agree that methamphetamine is the top law enforcement issue facing the territory and each stresses his zest for service.

"I want people to understand my passion for law enforcement and my desire to be the next Meade County Sheriff," says West. "This is something I've been thinking about for a long time. It's not a spur of the moment type deal."

Says Merwin: "I feel like I've done a fairly good job as Sheriff of Meade County. I'm passionate about Meade County. I live here. I've raised my family here. I'm a conservative I have 28 years of experience."

The primary vote is scheduled for June 5.