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The race for Vilas County Sheriff: Captain Gerard Ritter feels 'it's time for change'

Gerard Ritter Facebook

The races in Wisconsin’s August primary are heating up. Among them is the race for Vilas County Sheriff.

Vilas County Captain Gerard Ritter is challenging incumbent Sheriff Joseph Fath for the position in the Republican primary. There are no Democrats on the ballot, so the winner of the primary will likely become the next sheriff.

“I’m running for Vilas County Sheriff because I feel it’s time for change,” says Ritter, who has worked with the Vilas County Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years.

He says one major reason he decided to run for Sheriff this year is to give voters a choice.

“Nothing against Sheriff Fath, but he was talking about retirement prior to the election. If he were to retire any time during this next four years, then that process goes through the governor’s office and the governor gets to choose who the next sheriff is. I felt that takes away voters’ choice,” he says.

Fath told WXPR he does not plan to retire in the next four years if he wins the election.

But Ritter says he feels he’s the better candidate for other reasons too.

“In my leadership ability, I have an easier time communicating because there’s less of a gap. I listen to my employees, I work with them, I know what their daily needs are,” he says. “I think that gives me an edge because I care.”

During his time as a captain, Ritter has created programs to facilitate interactions between the police and community members. That includes programs like reading heroes, where police officers read with elementary students, and the Citizens Academy, a seven-week program for county residents to increase transparency in law enforcement.

If he becomes sheriff, Ritter says he wants to continue to work with the community to identify and solve problems.

“As a deputy, as a patrol lieutenant or as a captain, I have always been the same person. I’ve never let any title or position get the best of me,” he says. “It’s always been for the public. It’s always been for the staff. It’s never for my own personal gain. It’s always for the better good of the cause.”

WXPR aired a story about Sheriff Joe Fath yesterday. You can read about his priorities here. Wisconsin's primary election is on August 9.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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