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Sheriff candidates own up to 'mistakes' during Clay County Election Forum

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MOORHEAD—Less than a week before Minnesota's primaries, four candidates shared what their priorities are with voters in Clay County.

Two of those candidates faced pointed questions about their past mistakes at the forum, held at the Moorhead Public Library.

Mark Empting was the first person to address an elephant in the room.

"I am going to be open and honest with you," said Mark Empting, answering a question related to his background and former jobs within law enforcement.

Empting detailed how he has worked with the Clay County Sheriff's Office for years, but made a mistake early on in his career during his time with the Dilworth Police Department.

Empting said he did not want to go into the specifics, but called his actions 'unethical' but not 'criminal.'

"I made a stupid mistake when I was a kid," said Empting. "I had a lapse in judgment as a rookie cop. It was dumb. I shouldn't have done it."

Candidate Jason Hicks also faced a mistake he made on social media with a post online, also calling it a lapse in judgement.

Hicks and Empting are joined by two others in the race, Mark Hendrickson and Scott Steffes.

All four men have over 85 years of law enforcement experience combined.