Lee wins Stark County Sheriff race

Sheriff Corey Lee expresses his appreciation for the deputies during the ceremony.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — Sheriff Corey Lee will continue to be the face of law enforcement for Stark County for the next four years after defeating Fern Moser 69.5% to 29.8% Tuesday evening with more than 8,700 votes counted.

“Obviously, as always it’s very humbling and obviously its an honor," Lee said. "It’s always been an honor to serve this county for the last four years and its going to be a great honor to do it for another four.”

He said he was surprised by the results.

“I think this is a great reflection of how wonderful our staff is," Lee said. "Certainly this isn’t just about me. It’s an us thing and if it wasn’t for the great men and women at our department I certainly wouldn’t be getting reelected. It’s all about them, not me. Obviously I get the honor of being the leader of the pack, but they're the ones that get it done every day and it’s just a blessing to have a great staff and very low turnover and I think that is why we had as much success as we did tonight.”

Lee began his role as Stark County Sheriff in 2019, unseating Terry Oestrich during the 2018 primary election. He had been employed with the Dickinson Police Department for 13 prior to being elected Sheriff.


In 2022, the salary for Stark County Sheriff was $95,000. It will increase to $99,000 in 2023, Stark County Auditor/Treasurer Karen Richard said.

Moser has an extensive background in law enforcement, but retired from the Stark County Sheriff’s Department in 2020. He is now a safety director for Winn Construction.

“I wish Corey the best in his next term and I just want to thank everybody for all their support and all that they’ve done for me, especially my family, they kind of were my rock,” Moser said.

Area residents stood in line at the Prairie Hills Mall Tuesday waiting to cast their votes.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Lee ran unopposed in the June primary election, but 301 residents wrote in Moser to get his name added to the general election ballot. In what began as a cordial race, the competition over the sheriff’s title turned ugly this summer when an anonymous letter highlighted allegations against both candidates.

According to North Dakota Century Code, a sheriff should preserve the peace, arrest and take anyone who attempts to commit or has committed a public offense before a magistrate. They are to “prevent and suppress all affrays, breaches of the peace, riots, and insurrections which may come to the sheriff's knowledge.” Other duties include attending each term of district court held in the county, obeying its orders and directions, and making proclamations of the opening and adjournment of matters under its direction. A North Dakota sheriff should command the aid of as many residents of the county as they deem necessary in carrying out the sheriff's duties. They are in charge of the county jail and its prisoners. A sheriff must “endorse upon all notices and process received by the sheriff for service the year, month, day, hour, and minute of reception, and issue therefor to the person delivering it, on payment of the sheriff's fees, a certificate showing the names of the parties, the title of the paper, and the time of its reception.” Other duties are to serve process or notices according to law. They must certify the time and manner of service for each process or notice, or reasons for failure of service. Finally, a sheriff must enforce all statutes defining traffic violations, personally or through deputies.

Moser and Wardner
Senator Rich Wardner, left and Fern Moser pose by Moser's sign.
Contributed / Fern Moser

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on Stark County and other rural municipality governments, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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