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Houghton County names new top cop

The Houghton County Appointment Committee names Lieutenant Detective Josh Saaranen as Brian McLean’s replacement. Saaranen was one of seven candidates who put his name into consideration, including submission of a cover letter and recommendations, plus a public interview held September 8th. He was picked after two rounds of voting Wednesday night by a vote of two to one.

The three panel committee consisted of Prosecuting Attorney Brittany Bulleit, Probate Judge Fraser Strome, and Clerk Jennifer Kelly. Bulleit explained her rationale for wanting Saaranen.

I looked at this as something that we are deciding as a transition until the voters can decide. Because of that I looked at the interviews, the resumes, the recommendations, especially the ones from community stakeholders. People from Dial Help and DHHS. That is why I voted for Joshua Saaranen.

Strome held to his original selection and was the dissenting vote, but he agreed that Saaranen was preferable to Kelly’s initial pick. She deliberated for under five minutes before throwing her vote behind Bulleit’s choice.

They first wrote down their preferred candidate via paper ballot as not to be influenced by each other. Bulleit put forward Saaranen, Strome opted for Michigan Tech Public Safety Chief Brian Cadwell, and Kelly wanted Tami Sleeman from the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation. Both Strome and Bulleit felt Sleeman had been away from her native Keweenaw for too long to take over under the current circumstances.

Saaranen will be Sheriff at least until fall of 2022 when voters will have the opportunity to cement the future direction for the department.

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