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Toland tapped by Spee

By Staff | Oct 4, 2010

Bob Toland-Winnebago Police Chief

If Winnebago residents didn’t have an interest in the outcome of the Martin County sheriff’s race in November before, they might now.

A candidate for sheriff recently purchased a full-page ad to let citizens know what his intentions are if he is elected.

“When elected, on day one, Bob and I will bring to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office over 60 years of experience in law enforcement,” says Lowell Spee.

The “Bob” he is referring to is Winnebago Police Chief Bob Toland.

In his political ad, Spee says he will ask Martin County commissioners to ratify his decision to appoint Toland as chief deputy.

The candidate’s “public announcement” outlines Toland’s qualifications in four areas: work, family, training and additional experience.

The police chief calls the advertisement “an unusual tactic” and smiles because it is all about him.

“He (Lowell) was pumping some feathers pretty hard in my hat. I’m really appreciative of that and honored,” says Toland.

It was prior to the August primary elections when Spee first contacted Toland to see if he might be interested in the position.

At that time, Spee and four other candidates were vying for the top two spots to faceoff in the Nov. 2 general election.

“I told him maybe he had a lot of other better candidates to choose from, people who are younger and might have new, fresh ideas,” he says.

The two veteran law officers aren’t complete strangers. In the 1980s, they worked as police officers in Winnebago.

Toland insists he is happy being Winnebago’s police chief, serving a total of six years during two separate terms.

However, the chief deputy position offers an opportunity for different challenges.

“The county will see a lot of changes with new technology, and they will have to decide what direction to go regarding a new jail,” Toland says. “The sheriff’s department budget is about 10 times what it is in Winnebago.”

Winnebago council members weren’t caught off guard if they happened to see Spee’s ad.

Toland says he contacted city officials through e-mail about his future plans.

“I would rather have told each of them face-to-face, but that wasn’t possible,” he says.

Toland has worked as a county law officer before, serving 12 years as chief deputy in Faribault County. He also was the county’s chief investigator and emergency services director.

He has been a lifelong resident of Martin County and farmed in the northeast corner of the county for five years.

“Considering Lowell’s offer was a big decision. I talked it over with my wife,” he says. “Nothing is definite. Lowell has to win, then the commissioners would have to approve hiring me. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”