Three candidates vying for nomination as county sheriff
By Robert Green
Delegates of the Sanpete County Republican Party selected a new sheriff last night.
Three candidates applied to serve out the term of outgoing Sheriff Brian Nelson, who left to serve as the executive director of the Utah Department of Corrections after being asked to oversee Utah’s prison system by Gov. Spencer Cox. Nelson was in the middle of four-year elected term as sheriff.
For about a month, second in command Gary Larsen has served as interim sheriff of Sanpete County. Larsen, however, did not apply for the sheriff’s job.
The three candidates who applied for the position are all county residents with law enforcement experience. Both Keith Jensen and Rick Rasmussen are patrolmen with the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office and Jared Buchanan works for the Sandy Police Department, although he worked for Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office previously.
The new sheriff was chosen by a council of Sanpete County Republican delegates during a “meet the candidates” Zoom session and by an online independent voting service, according to Steven Clark, Sanpete County Republican chairman. There are 277 delegates who were elected in their neighborhood caucus meetings in 2018.
Candidates answered questions from the delegates, although the Zoom meeting was not intended to be a debate, Clark said.
The Republican Party will announce the winning candidate today, Clark said. In the unlikely event of a tie, the two highest vote getter’s names will be submitted to a nine-person adhoc committee, who will break the tie.
The three candidates all campaigned for the position on Facebook and their qualifications were posted on the Sanpete County Republican Party website.
Here is a synopsis of the three candidates:
I was fortunate enough to be raised in law enforcement from the beginning. My dad was Wallace Buchanan. He was the sheriff for Sanpete County for six years. I was able to watch his leadership and example from a young age. As I’ve gone through my law enforcement career, I have had many great examples of leadership. Through my natural leadership abilities and the examples, I have had, I am the best candidate for Sanpete County Sheriff.
There are several things that have helped me be successful in my career. These include my education, trainings, experiences and most importantly my family. I have been married for 18 years to my wife Traci Buchanan, formally Edwards, who is very supportive of my career. We have three children ranging from ages 3 to 10. Our forever home is in Manti.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology. I am POST certified as a Law Enforcement and Correctional Officer in the state of Utah. I have a total of 16.5 years of Law Enforcement experience. During those 16.5 years I have worked at the Utah Department of Corrections, Sandy City Police Department and Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office. While at the Utah Department of Corrections I worked in the Maximum-security unit supervising death row and high intensive management inmates. At the Sandy City Police Department I worked in Patrol, Traffic (motors) and was an active member of the S.W.A.T Team. I was also a Police Field Training Officer and conducted background investigations on new hires. While employed with Sandy City I was awarded the Medal of Merit, and Unit Citation. I am currently a Sergeant with Sandy City Police Department. While with the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office I promoted to the rank of Sergeant assigned to the patrol division. I have been a supervisor in two different law enforcement agencies. This has given me the opportunity to see different leadership styles and find what works the best.
My name is Keith S. Jensen and I am running for Sanpete County Sheriff. A lifetime dedicated to public service has given me a broad range of personal and professional experience. My military service taught me valuable lessons in commitment, loyalty, and sacrifice. My experience as a public official has taught me to respect other points of view, make judgments based on collaborative efforts, and appreciate others who dedicate themselves to their communities. Most importantly, my experience as a law enforcement officer has taught me empathy, perseverance, and compassion. I am a studious and analytical person who will continue to seek out challenges and ways to serve Sanpete County.
I am a graduate of North Sanpete High School, University of Phoenix (A.A. degree Aviation Technology), and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (B.S. degree Workforce Education and Development). I am proud to be a Veteran of this great country, having served on active duty in the US Navy as an Aviation Warfare Specialist with deployments to Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Haiti, Bosnia, and the Persian Gulf.
I completed Utah Valley University Police Academy and have been employed by the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office since 2015. In 2017 I was promote to Patrol Sergeant and have been an integral part of the Sheriff’s administrative team for the past three years. As Patrol Sergeant I have been assigned numerous administrative duties and am responsible for the day to day supervision and case management of the patrol deputies.
I am a proud to be a lifelong Republican. I have been a State and County Delegate for Sanpete County Republican Party for many years, and am currently Sanpete County’s representative on the Republican Party State Central Committee. I support Republican principles of fiscal responsibility and a limited government. I support a strong national defense that defends liberty and the American way of life. I am an active defender of the 2nd amendment and strongly support and encourage the right to keep and bear arms.
I am so thankful that I was able to be born and raised in Sanpete County. My wife Carol and I feel lucky to be able to raise our three girls in Sanpete. I feel a very special connection to all the citizens of Sanpete County and I look forward to continuing to serve the community.
I have lived in Ephraim since 1991 but grew up in Manti where I attended Manti High School and graduated in 1985. While growing up, my father taught me to work hard. We spent long days working on the farm and helping with the family drywall business.
At the age of 17, I joined the Utah National Guard and served for 9 years. I achieved the rank of Sergeant and obtained a life-long sense of duty, responsibility and leadership.
In 1991, I met and married Melinda Walker from Fountain Green. This coming March marks our 30th wedding anniversary. We have seven wonderful children and one granddaughter. I have a strong commitment to my family and appreciate their love and support. I am so grateful to live in a free country. I am especially grateful to live in the Sanpete Valley.
I currently work in the patrol division as a Deputy for the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Department.
I started my career with the Department of Corrections in 1991. I worked various positions from Officer, Sergeant, Case Worker and Lieutenant. I also enjoyed being the Commander of the Honor Guard for numerous years.
I was also in charge of heading up a team of 10 that was responsible for emergency management at the prison for 5 years. I was chosen as the representative for the state-wide program, the “Great Shake Out” and helped coordinate and plan for other emergency situations.
During my time as Lieutenant I had the opportunity to supervise anywhere from 10-24 employees in various roles over the years. One of the great rewards of my career has been working with the amazing correctional staff from our surrounding communities.
After my career in Corrections I accepted a position with Snow College as the Assistant Chief of Police for 3 years. I was responsible for managing staff and ordering all our department equipment. I worked closely with Risk Management and HR on staff discipline and terminations. I worked with the Title lX office concerning student sexual allegations.
For the past 15 months I have been working as a road deputy for Sanpete County. During my time on patrol I have had the opportunity to interact with many of the residents in this county. I have also been able to interact and work with local police agencies. I have worked in community service all of my career and I would honorably continue my service to the citizens of this county.
I believe in God and in upholding the Constitution. As Sherriff, I will fight to preserve the second amendment and defend every citizen’s right to carry responsibly and in harmony with the law.
The qualities I bring with me to this position are leadership, approachability, accountability, honesty, commitment and integrity. I would love to continue serving the citizens of Sanpete County, and I know with my training, skills, and knowledge I would be able create a positive relationship with the community and strengthen the citizens’ confidence in those who are here to protect and serve them.