Sheriff investigates fire truck at polling place

Chuck Nagle, of Baldwin Township, attaches an American flag atop his fire truck in a privately-owned field west of Sherburne County 45 across from the Baldwin Town Hall while voting was going on during the March 13 township election.

A Sherburne County Sheriff’s deputy checked out a complaint on March 13 regarding a fire truck parked in a field across the road from the Baldwin Township hall as possibly causing a traffic hazard.

March 13 was election day for the township and clerk Cathy Stevens who was working inside the town hall, called the sheriff’s department late that morning about the truck. She told the Union-Eagle later that she made the complaint to the sheriff’s office over concerns she says she heard from voters. Those were that the truck with its flashing lights might be a possible distraction for drivers on the nearby road, which is Sherburne County Road 45.

The complaint states that drivers were slowing down on the road thinking there might be an emergency there. Stevens said she hadn’t made the call suspecting that it was a case of an election violation.

A Sherburne sheriff’s deputy was dispatched at 11:04 a.m. according to the initial complaint report (ICR), and arrived at 12:02 p.m. at the field where the fire truck was parked. The subject yellow fire truck did not have any designation that it is part of any jurisdiction. It is a used fire truck owned by Chuck Nagle, who was in the vicinity of the truck and who is not a member of Baldwin’s fire department. The fire truck also had activated flashing lights that stayed on into the dark hours of March 13. The truck also had a large sign on each side urging people to vote for Nagle, who was on the Baldwin election ballot as a challenger to supervisor Jay Swanson who was running for re-election.

The responding deputy’s comments on the ICR state that the red lights on Nagle’s truck were activated but are “not creating a traffic hazard and the truck is on private property.”

If Nagle’s campaign signs on the truck had been within 100 feet of the polling station (which was the town hall) then it would have been an election law violation. The distance between Nagle’s fire truck and the town hall was well beyond 100 feet.