Posted 12/30/14 (Tue)
By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer
With Sheriff Fulwider hanging up his badge at the end of the month, newly-elected Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger will step up to the plate to begin his duties. Schwartzenberger defeated Troy White Owl in the November election.
“I wish Gary all the best of luck,” says Fulwider. “I hope he knows what he’s got himself into. There are a lot of responsibilities as Sheriff of McKenzie County, but I know he can do it.”
Schwartzenberger spent two years with the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office before resigning last September to work in the oilfield. After he learned of Fulwider’s decision to retire, he decided to run for Sheriff, in hopes of making a difference in McKenzie County.
“I wanted to make a difference,” said Schwartzenberger. “I wanted to take what I learned in the Marine Corps, and take that to serve the people of McKenzie County.”
Schwartzenberger retired from the Marine Corps after spending 26 years in active duty. Combined with two years spent in the National Guard out of Williston, he’s served his country, in the military, for a total of 28 years. Schwartzenberger is a North Dakota native, and more specifically, a Watford City boy at heart. He was born in the hospital right here in Watford City.
Once Schwartzenberger officially becomes Sheriff of McKenzie County on Jan. 1, he walks in with both short and long-term goals he’d like to see accomplished. With a new jail being built in the near future, he knows he and his fellow officers need to become proficient in jail operations. He also knows that obtaining essential workforce housing for his officers is imperative in hiring and retaining officers. Schwartzenberger would also like to address his department’s man-power shortage to ensure the safety and welfare of the people of McKenzie County.
“I know the county commissioners have purchased the land for the jail and that project is moving forward,” said Schwartzenberger. “The commissioners have been very attentive to the needs they’ve been presented with, and have actively engaged in taking action to meet those needs, especially those with law enforcement right now.”
Schwartzenberger also feels it’s vital to build some strong, long-lasting relationships with the other agencies in McKenzie County. There will be a strong initiative to build a better relationship with the Watford City Police Department as well.
One way that he feels will help foster some of these relationships is with the new School Resource Officer that will be placed in the Watford City school system. He believes this new position will allow for the Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office, and the school district to be able to partner on a new level and work together. With a presence in the schools, it will show the children and the community that law enforcement is, and wants to be involved, on a positive level.
“If we are going to combat the crime and drugs here,” said Schwartzenberger, “those relationships are so important moving forward with everything going on in the Bakken right now.”
Schwartzenberger wants the people of McKenzie County to know that he is going to be giving 110 percent of himself to his job and will take care of the people the best he knows how. He also wants the voters, who elected him to this important position, to know how thankful he is for their support.
“I want to say thank you so very much for your vote of confidence,” said Schwartzenberger. “I will do everything I can to live up to your expectations of me as your Sheriff.”
Schwartzenberger also wants his family to know how appreciative of them he is and the support they’ve given in his decision to run for Sheriff. He and his wife of 20 years have four children and two grandchildren.
“I appreciate the sacrifice my family has taken for me,” said Schwartzenberger. “And for all of the support they’ve given me in my decision to run for Sheriff. We have a saying in our home - it’s an acronym: RWH. It stands for Return With Honor. Not only do we each leave our house every day, aspiring to return with honor, it’s something I’d like to implement in my new position and the people that work with me every day. It encompasses a lot of things and wraps them up very simply.”
Despite taking on a new and complex role as the Sheriff of McKenzie County, Schwartzenberger still plans on being actively involved in the community. For the last 20 years, Schwartzenberger has been a Boy Scout leader and plans on continuing in this role. He would also like to continue helping coach youth football and high school basketball, when he can.
“I’d really like to implement more youth programs in the future,” said Schwartzenberger. “As much as I can be involved, I’m going to be.”
Schwartzenberger knows the position he is about to fill comes at a time when things are drastically changing in McKenzie County. As he takes over for Sheriff Fulwider, he is eager and thankful for everything he’s learned from Fulwider.
“I have all the respect and admiration for John Fulwider,” said Schwartzenberger. “I have learned so much from him, and I wish him the best in all of his future endeavors.”
Schwartzenberger will take office on Jan. 1 and is ready to serve and protect the people of McKenzie County.