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Toland running for Martin Co. board seat

By Staff | Nov 13, 2011

Winnebago’s police chief will continue serving the public next year, but it may be in a different capacity.

Bob Toland, a Nashville Township resident, has filed for the District 1 commissioner’s seat in Martin County.

“I’ve been talking with my wife (Madge) for some time about running, but I didn’t think the opportunity would come up this quick,” he says.

The vacancy was created when a commissioner resigned after pleading guilty to a felony count of theft.

Others filing for the position include Steven W. Pierce, Elliot Belgard and Bradley Berg.

Because more than two candidates have filed for the seat, a primary election will be held Dec. 20. The top two vote-getters will face each other in a special election set for Feb. 14.

Toland believes his more than 30 years in law enforcement bodes well to be a commissioner.

He’s been Winnebago police chief for seven years during two separate terms.

Also, Toland has worked as a county law officer, serving 12 years as chief deputy in Faribault County, as well as chief investigator and emergency services director.

“I think working with a lot of people in various departments at the city and county levels has given me the experience and qualifies me,” he says.

“At this stage in my life, I’m looking for a challenge to use some of my life experiences and focus in a different direction,” he adds.

City Administrator Austin Bleess was taken by surprise with Toland’s decision.

He says the police chief told him he was running for commissioner before filing.

“Bob has a long history of service to the public. This is just another way for him to continue that,” Bleess says.

Although Toland has never held public office, he has been a candidate before.

Some 30 years ago he ran for a township board position while living in Blue Earth County,

“I came very close,” he says.

Martin County faces much of the same issues other counties have had to deal with, says Toland, like cuts in state aid, upgrading its jail an aging agricultural infrastructure

“We also have to take a good hard look at trying to bring industry into the county,” he says.

In the past, the 56-year-old Toland has said he plans to retire from law enforcement in the near future.

When he isn’t busy with police chief duties, Toland helps out his 82-year-old father at the farm where he lives and has been in the family since 1917.

“If I win, I’ll retire as police chief right away,” he says.

The winner in February would have to run for re-election next November, when the seat is up for regular election.