Majority of Hennepin County Board wants defiant Sheriff Hutchinson to quit

A majority of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners is calling on Sheriff Dave Hutchinson to resign after his drunk-driving arrest and allegations he lied to first responders, but the defiant sheriff said Thursday that his critics won't force him out.

Board Chair Marion Greene joined commissioners Angela Conley, Chris LaTondresse, Jeff Lunde and Irene Fernando in calling for Hutchinson to quit. They said the sheriff had become a distraction and no longer held the public's confidence.

"Sheriff Hutchinson’s actions and subsequent comments have eroded public confidence his ability to serve and equitably enforce laws," Greene said in a Thursday evening statement, noting that people in her district had expressed their concerns to her.

Hutchinson has come under increasing public scrutiny after crashing his county-owned 2021 Ford Explorer on Interstate 94 in December. He pled guilty and avoided jail time. This week, the state court system released a search warrant in which a Minnesota State Patrol sergeant alleged that Hutchinson lied to first-responding deputies by claiming a cab driver was behind the wheel of the SUV.

The board cannot vote Hutchinson out because he's an elected official. In a statement through a spokesman, the sheriff said he would not resign.

"I am fully committed to continuing to serve the people of Hennepin County who elected me. I will let the citizens, not politicians, decide my future in November," Hutchinson said in the statement.

The statement followed a 24-hour period in which Hutchinson's team went silent, prompting speculation that the sheriff was plotting an exit strategy. Instead, he dug in his heels.

Lunde, who was the second commissioner to call for Hutchinson's resignation, said it was "painful" because he likes the sheriff. But he said Hutchinson's saga has become a distraction to the county's public safety priorities.

"Sometimes what’s best is to step aside and to let the position carry on. We’re here to do the work of the people, and right now, we’re not doing that work," Lunde said in an interview. "The average person in the street is watching this and asking, would I get the same treatment if this was me? And I don’t have an answer for that."

Two commissioners have not called for Hutchinson's resignation. Commissioner Kevin Anderson wrote Thursday night that he hoped Hutchinson "is making decisions that are in the best interest of the people of Hennepin County and the officers he is charged with leading." Anderson said the decision will ultimately be made by voters. Commissioner Debbie Goettel has not commented publicly.

Hutchinson declined an interview Thursday. He has not answered questions about the allegation he lied to first responders about who was driving the Explorer.

Andy Skoogman, a spokesman for Hutchinson, said the sheriff has not yet gotten a new county-issued vehicle to replace the one he crashed. Nor has he made any payments to Hennepin County for the $54,000 Explorer, though a repayment plan is being worked out, Skoogman said.