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Hodapp holds off Cross in Beltrami County sheriff's race

Incumbent Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp defeated challenger Bill Cross in one of the area's most hotly contested election races.

With all 62 precincts reporting, Hodapp had 8,748 votes, or 55.6 percent. Cross had 6,976, or 44.3 percent.

Hodapp and Cross ran against each other four years ago. Hodapp was elected to his first term as sheriff, holding off Cross for the position.

This year, Hodapp is seeking a second term, and Cross wants to return to Beltrami County to lead the Sheriff's Office. He is currently Wadena County chief deputy,

Hodapp said he focused in his first term on reducing the effects of drugs, gangs, violent crime and dangerous driving. When he took office four years ago, Beltrami County was 13th in the state rankings for the number of fatal accidents. He initiated proactive policing, putting more deputies on the roads to watch for reckless or drunken driving and equipment violations.

Fatal accidents went from eight in 2006 to five in 2007, four in 2008 and two in 2009. Hodapp said social and educational factors - more people doing their drinking at home and more wearing seat belts - contributed to the decrease, as did the legal level of blood alcohol dropping from .10 to .08.

Cross began working for the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office in 1971. He left in 2001 to become Wadena County chief deputy. During his years in Beltrami County, he held every position in the department from dispatcher and investigator to chief deputy.

His main message this election has been advocating for implementing increased technology.