DANVILLE – Danville police chief Dan Weckesser will run for the position of Knox County sheriff in 2020, he confirmed Thursday.
Weckesser, who has served as chief of the Danville Police Department since 2016, filed his petition with the Knox County Board of Elections in November to run against incumbent David Shaffer in the March 17 primary election. Both candidates are running as Republicans.
Shaffer has served as Knox County’s sheriff since 2013. He is seeking a third consecutive term in office.
Weckesser said he chose to run for the position because he wants to expand his role in the local law enforcement scene.
“My desire is to serve our citizens,” Weckesser told Knox Pages, “and I would like to bring my strategies of law enforcement to all of Knox County, instead of just the Danville and Brinkhaven areas.”
If Weckesser wins the primary election, the Danville Police Department would likely have nine months to find his replacement. The winner of the primary race will presumably run unopposed for sheriff in November. No candidates from other parties have filed a petition to run.
Write-in candidates have until Jan. 6, 2020 to file a petition with the Board of Elections to run in the primary. The deadline for Independent candidates to file is March 16. Any Independent candidates would only appear on the 2020 General Election ballot.
If Weckesser is elected, he said the Danville Police Department would likely conduct an internal and external search for its next chief, although "it will probably be in-house." In this case, the department would hire another officer to replace whomever is promoted.
Weckesser assured village residents that, if elected, he would leave the department in good hands.
“I will make sure Danville’s taken care of,” Weckesser said.
Shaffer, who won the Republican primary in 2012 and ran unopposed in 2016, was unavailable for comment on Thursday, regarding his decision to seek a third term.
Shaffer has worked off-and-on with the Knox County sheriff’s office since 1985, according to the office’s website. He began his career in law enforcement as a volunteer special deputy with the office, before being hired as a full-time patrolman with the Fredericktown Police Department in 1987.
Shaffer returned to the Knox County sheriff’s office in 1993, when he was hired as a midnight-shift patrol deputy. He served as a K-9 handler under Sheriff David Barber and was one of the original members of the agency's Tactical Response Unit, later becoming the team leader.
Shaffer worked his way through the ranks at the sheriff’s office, having served as a deputy, patrol sergeant, lieutenant, division commander in charge of patrol, records and civil process, and captain before being elected sheriff in 2012. Shaffer defeated Roger Brown in the Republican primary with 57 percent of the vote before running unopposed in the General Election that year.
Shaffer is a past recipient of the National Sheriff's Association Medal of Valor and the Ohio Attorney General's Distinguished Law Enforcement Group Achievement Award.
"I am proud to have grown up and raised my family in Knox County,” Shaffer said in a statement on the office’s website. “I enjoy working in the field of law enforcement and being a part of a great team."
According to Weckesser’s official campaign Facebook page, he has been a resident of Knox County since 1980. While growing up on the family farm, Weckesser attended Danville Local Schools and the Knox County Career Center.
He went on to work at Samples Service Station, Danville Feed and Supply, B&J Drilling, 7&7 Trucking, and Burrows Paper before starting his own business in 1990. His family still owns and operates Danville Tire & Alignment, located in the heart of the village.
Weckesser entered the police academy in 2002 and was hired by the Danville Police Department a year later as a volunteer officer.
“I enrolled in as many police related training courses that the Village of Danville could afford to send me to,” Weckesser stated on his campaign page. “I paid out of my pocket for several courses that I felt I needed to perform my job.”
Weckesser is currently a certified firearms instructor, hostage negotiator, school resource officer and K-9 officer. He has worked full-time with the Danville Police Department since 2010. Over the past decade, Weckesser has risen through the ranks – from road officer to sergeant to lieutenant – before being named chief in 2016.
“Ever since I started in the Law Enforcement field, my mission has been to serve our hard working taxpayers the best I can,” Weckesser stated. “I plan on extending this mission to all the taxpayers of Knox County. I feel what is good for one is good for all. No one is above the law.”
The deadline to file for candidacy in the 2020 primary election was Wednesday at 4 p.m. To see the full list of candidates and issues from the Knox County Board of Elections, click here.