Clayton County Sheriff candidates state their views

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Brent Ostrander

Brandon Taylor

After 35 years with the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office and 16 as sheriff, Mike Tschirgi announced last summer that he will retire from law enforcement when his current term is up at the end of 2024. 

Brent Ostrander, an investigator with the sheriff’s office, and Brandon Taylor, a sheriff’s deputy, announced their candidacy for sheriff and are facing off in the Republican primary on June 4. In a series of questions posed by Times-Register editor Audrey Posten, Ostrander and Taylor made their cases as to why they should be elected.

Brent Ostrander

Why are you running for Clayton County Sheriff? Has it been a position you’ve always aspired to?

I have decided to run for the office of sheriff to continue my efforts in improving the department, communities and people we serve. Sounds generic, doesn’t it...but it’s true. I’ve dedicated the past 21 years completely focused and determined to do right by you. With the retirement announcement of Sheriff Tschirgi, I evaluated the current options on who would best lead the sheriff’s office forward and, with the blessing of my wife, determined I had the years of service, training and, most importantly, real-world experience to provide an honest and tested leadership vision. I believe most motivated law enforcement officers have aspirations of bringing their style to a leadership role within their respective agencies. However, it hasn’t always been the goal. Throughout my career, I’ve focused on being the best I could be at whatever assignment I was given. I believe strongly in letting your work do the talking for you and not valuing popularity over performance. So, with two-thirds of my successful and respected career behind me, I feel I am prepared to take on the responsibility of serving this great county as sheriff.

What background and experience have prepared you for the position?

I was raised by a well-respected police detective as a father. I was introduced to the law enforcement culture from birth and have been drawn to the idea of being your community’s protector since childhood. I graduated from Southwest Wisconsin Technical College with an associate degree in police science. I began working for the Guttenberg Police Department in 2002 and was later hired by the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office in 2006. What sets me apart from my opponent is the vast experiences and knowledge I have obtained in these years of service. I have held the position and rank of:

•Patrol Officer

•K-9 Deputy

•Special Operations Team Assistant Team Leader

•Criminal Investigator


I have also been trusted as an instructor and trainer for the sheriff’s office from 2008 to 2022. I have held instructor certifications in the disciplines of:

•Oleoresin Capsicum (pepper spray)

•ASP expandable baton


•Cell extraction

•Defensive tactics

I became a certified instructor after completing the FBI instructor development course and have utilized this knowledge to implement better training standards within the county.

I served as the vice president and then president of the Clayton County Law Enforcement Association (CCLEA) until around 2015. I find great satisfaction in knowing the efforts the CCLEA Board and I implemented in those years have become the model for how the association continues to function.

Working in major crimes in Clayton County has instilled a passion in me to help. Victims of every crime deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and empathy by responding deputies. Perspective is everything, and although we as law enforcement may have been through this multiple times, for the majority of people we serve this is their first experience. Understanding this and approaching it with a compassionate effort proves to be the greatest response we could bring.

What values do you have as a person and a member of law enforcement that you feel will make you an effective leader for the county?

My campaign has been marked with three words: commitment, integrity and experience.

Since I moved to this county, I have been committed to the service I could provide. Whether that be in my occupation, church council, athletic board, youth coach, neighbor or friend.

I believe integrity is the greatest personal trait one can possess. Doing right, even when no one is looking, is a testament to your character. I am not without fault, but have tried to improve myself and those around me for as long as I can remember. I refuse to cut corners and believe in doing it right the first time.

Experience isn’t strictly defined as the work experience I’ve received, although that surely is a significant benefit. I’ve learned a lot from both my personal and professional experiences. Personal experiences allow for empathy and sympathy to the situations we often get called to. Regardless of our occupation, we are community members first. Our occupation is vital in safeguarding others and should be routinely evaluated for best practices and areas of importance. Crime evolves and so should we. It’s the department’s responsibility to identify and address these shifts quickly and efficiently.

If elected, what goals do you have for yourself and the sheriff’s office as a whole?

My goals will remain consistent with the goals I have had since the start of my career. I want to stay motivated and dedicated with a desire to improve myself and the efforts I put forward. With the sheriff’s position hopefully being my last role in area law enforcement, I want to ensure I leave with a sense of peace and pride knowing I was able to make an impact within our department, but more importantly in our community.

The goals of the sheriff’s office will be to create a clearly defined vision that brings unity and a sense of purpose to the employees. I have had conversations over the years with every employee and have listened to their wants and needs. A well-defined command structure, clear direction, accountability, as well as value and appreciation continue to be mentioned. As sheriff, I will bring these needs to the office to ensure the working environment is designed for growth.

Another goal has been outlined in my campaign platform since the start. That is to develop stronger working relationships with the area police departments, fire departments, EMS services and organizations within the county. Training efforts, education and building trust provide better preparedness for the critical incidents we jointly respond to.

As sheriff, how would you plan to stay connected with the community and keep people informed on your work and that of the sheriff’s office?

Increased community involvement is one of the main goals I have as sheriff. I feel it’s a requirement for the sheriff to stay connected with the public. Information, education and awareness are necessary for a transparent office and will be improved if elected to office. I will be a sheriff out and about at community events and meetings, and will ensure the information from our office is shared through a multitude of different channels. It’s important the public stay informed and my responsibility to make the information accessible.

What have you learned through the campaign process that you would take with you into the role of sheriff?

I’ve learned a lot! One of my favorite, but true, lines is, “I’m not a politician. I‘m a public servant.” Learning how to campaign has come with challenges, but I understand the process. Politics involves competing interests, ideas and perspectives, which can create division among those with similar goals. However, it’s also an opportunity for growth, understanding and finding common ground amidst differences. Effective leadership can bridge these gaps. I am a strong believer in a “One Team - One Mission” philosophy and want to ensure a unified department for the betterment of our community and the dedicated professionals who serve.

What else would you like voters to know about you?

It’s important to acknowledge that, as a husband and father of three, this campaign has demanded a significant portion of my time. I’ve missed out on sporting events and school functions while attending numerous meetings instead, all in pursuit of becoming the next Clayton County Sheriff. Without the understanding and support of my family, this campaign wouldn’t be possible. I want to assure everyone that I’m fully dedicated to serving you. Elevating the standards of pride, performance and professionalism within the Sheriff’s Office are not just a goal, but a commitment to better serve our community.

I humbly ask for your support and vote on June 4 as the Republican candidate for Clayton County Sheriff.

Please feel free to call me at (563) 315-8039 or email me at with any questions you may have.


Brandon Taylor

Why are you running for Clayton County Sheriff? Has it been a position you’ve always aspired to?

I believe strongly that pursuing leadership positions in law enforcement is a calling you feel within yourself. Once you have those feelings, they are extremely tough to ignore. Choosing to pursue these positions are not solely for self, but about the staff we lead as well as the public we serve.  

Since early on in my law enforcement career, I’ve felt the calling to lead a law enforcement agency.Clayton County has always been home for me, professionally and personally. I believe during your law enforcement journey that a person will begin to recognize certain traits and characteristics within oneself that lends itself to leadership. After a lot of reflecting, I believe I possess these traits. 

What background and experience has prepared you for the position?

Throughout my 14 years of service, I have worked in multiple facets of public safety. These include the jail, dispatch center, municipal police departments and the sheriff’s office. This experience has created an accumulation of knowledge that will benefit the office and public if elected your next Clayton County Sheriff. I am also an instructor in multiple disciplines of use of force, where I am involved in the instruction of fellow officers throughout the entire county. My training, coupled with my experience, creates a perfect recipe for success to serve as your next sheriff.  

What values do you have as a person and a member of law enforcement that you feel will make you an effective leader for the county?

I believe the most important value to have as a leader is a strong moral compass. A moral compass provides a baseline for almost all decisions, and allows something to fall back on that will always help you through tough times. A great leader is also approachable, likable and dependable when need be. These combined qualities are things great leaders are made of, and I am proud to say I live by all of them. 

I believe I am very effective at communicating and working with others. I have developed a great working relationship with officers from the local police departments, and that will be a huge asset if I am elected sheriff.  It is imperative that all facets of law enforcement work harmoniously in times of need, and I intend to ensure that continues and is enhanced in any way possible. Having great communication skills and being approachable is the way to foster excellence. 

If elected, what goals do you have for yourself and for the sheriff’s office as a whole? 

The main goal is to build on the excellence in public safety currently provided to the residents of Clayton County. As the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, we work very closely with fellow law enforcement agencies and emergency responder services. Small town policing is a must to assist in providing the best service and response to our public. My goal is to not only build and enhance our current relationships but also coordinate joint trainings and provide our public servants with the best equipment and training possible. We will also maintain and foster the relationships with not only law enforcement, but our Clayton County community through everyday interactions. I would like to implement a search and rescue drone program, as well as equipping deputies who also serve as EMTs with medical equipment in their patrol vehicles to respond to medical calls in addition to their current law enforcement duties. Having new ideas and ways to continue the journey forward is not a bad thing, and it is important that we evolve and improve as an organization. My overall goal is improvement wherever possible and open and transparent leadership and interaction with everyone. 

As sheriff, how would you plan to stay connected with the community and keep people informed on your work and that of the sheriff’s office?

Again, building on what we currently do, which includes social media, community policing efforts and daily duties. I would encourage and enhance every one of these areas. I believe one major thing the younger generation of officers bring to the table is a tech savvy ability that simply wasn’t achievable in the past. Times have changed, and we all understand that. However, social media is no substitute for direct face-to-face interaction with our community. I will be extremely visible, involved and available for both staff and public alike. I am a people person, I always have been, and I always will be. These are qualities, in my opinion, that define a great sheriff. 

What have you learned through the campaign process that you would take with you into the role of sheriff?

As I started this campaign, I promised everyone that I will always remain genuine and transparent. I don’t possess the ability to be someone I’m not, and what you see is what you get. I will always remain transparent, genuine and ethical. Our public will always know the real Brandon Taylor, and that will never waiver, change or be interpreted falsely regardless of the pressures or influences surrounding the job. The campaign process isn’t easy. It is a daily responsibility that requires a majority of your free time and family time. Working toward this goal has only made me appreciate more the responsibility I will take on as sheriff.  I have learned I should never and will never take that responsibility for granted. 

What else would you like voters to know about you?  

I am honest, transparent and ethical in my work and my personal life. I will always uphold my oath of office and support the constitutional rights of the people. Many people have asked  and voiced concern about the potential danger of our second amendment rights being compromised. I can affirm this will not happen as long as I am your sheriff. I vow to always have an open ear for everyone, and the dedication and follow through to always do the right thing. My definition of “integrity” is doing the right thing even when nobody is looking. I give you my word I will work tirelessly to provide excellence, transparency and long-term safety to our community.

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