Brent Kilburg

Brent Kilburg

A third candidate has entered the race for Jackson County sheriff, saying the sheriff’s department lacks honesty, transparency and defers to nepotism and preferential treatment.

Brent Kilburg, a Springbrook-area native and deputy with the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, announced his candidacy Friday.

“As a public servant, it’s imperative that you be honest with the community,” Kilburg said “If law enforcement is untruthful, they’re not reliable to testify in court. If they can’t testify in court, [they’re] not very useful at their job.”

Kilburg also stressed that all citizens should be treated with respect.

“You have to be good to people, you have to be honest with people, and you have to treat them fairly,” said Kilburg, a Republican.

Sheriff Russ Kettmann, who won six elections but decided not to seek a seventh term, said the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office would not enter into “political banter” with people running for the sheriff’s office.

“The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has always strived to be the department that is there to protect and to serve the residents of Jackson County utilizing common sense law enforcement,” Kettmann said.

“The sheriff’s office is made up of hardworking and dedicated individuals who pride themselves on making this department the best it can be. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide the protection and services that have been a standard of this department for many years,” he said.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Steve Schroeder, who is Kettmann’s brother-in-law, did not return a phone call requesting a response to Kilburg’s allegations.

Kilburg joins Schroeder and Maquoketa Assistant Police Chief Brendan Zeimet in the race for the sheriff’s office.

The county filing period for the primary opens March 2 and ends March 25 at 5 p.m. The primary election is June 2.

Kilburg first ran for sheriff in 2016 but pulled out before the primary. He said he had some issues to “wrap up” to put him in “a better position” to run in the future. He did not elaborate on those issues.

Kilburg decided to run for public office again to bring a different perspective to the sheriff’s office, he explained.

“When things have been done a certain way for a long time, it doesn’t hurt to have a fresh set of eyes,” he said. “As a leader, you need to set the example and hold yourself to a higher standard.”

He also spoke of the need to follow rules and regulations in the sheriff’s office and said he does not condone preferential treatment

“If it’s not a single standard, there’s a double standard,” Kilburg said. “You shouldn’t use your title or position to expect to have a blind eye turned to something. If you conduct yourself professionally, you won’t have a problem.”

He also said “nepotism is a problem over there” as he pointed toward the courthouse and sheriff’s office. If elected, Kilburg vowed to hire the best candidate for the job despite the applicant’s family connections.

If elected, Kilburg’s goals as Jackson County sheriff are to:

• Increase professional leadership through transparency and accountability.

• Provide additional staff training; increase proactive patrolling, especially on serious crimes such as drugs and thefts; network with community leaders to help deter crime, and educate the community on internet crimes and scams.

• Protect taxpayers by implementing the safest, most cost-effective jail.

Kilburg did not say if the county should build a new jail or renovate the old one. He did say that closing the jail and housing inmates out-of-county is not the best option and said the existing jail is “not acceptable.”

“I don’t think [the jail issue] has been investigated enough,” Kilburg explained. He said he wants to review more closely the details of how the jail operates before committing to a specific position.

Kilburg graduated from St. Ambrose University in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a minor in psychology. He began his 26-year career in law enforcement with the Maquoketa Police Department in 1993.

He has served more than 31 years in the military, enlisting in the Iowa Army National Guard in 1988. Kilburg served in Iraq and Afghanistan and is the assistant operations officer with the 67th Troop Command in Iowa City. He plans to retire from the National Guard this spring.

Kilburg and his wife, Lynn, have four children ranging in age from 15 to 25. He is the the son of John and Sharel (Schmidt) Kilburg, farms his parent’s ground, and also owns property in Jackson County.

Schroeder joined the sheriff’s office 31 years ago. He advanced from patrol officer to investigator for 23 years before being promoted to chief deputy in 2014. He’s a Bellevue High School graduate who spent three years in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps.

Zeimet earned a promotion to assistant chief in 2017. He was promoted from reserve officer to patrol officer then to sergeant. He is a Spragueville native and Preston High School graduate.