Is former Sheriff Bob Fletcher making a comeback?

Bob Fletcher, as Ramsey County Sheriff, led a controversial initiative against protesters during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. (Tim Nelson/MPR News)

Former Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher will be back on the ballot this fall — but not to be the county’s top cop.

He’s running for the Vadnais Heights City Council this year. He was one of four candidates who filed yesterday for the two spots on the ballot for Nov. 4.  The council has four positions, and they run in staggered even-year elections. The top two vote-getters win seats on the at-large council.

Is this the start of the Bob Fletcher comeback tour?

“Or is it the fade into the sunset?” Fletcher joked today.

It’s his second run for office since he lost the Sheriff’s race to Matt Bostrom in 2010 — Fletcher ran in the Ramsey County board primary against incumbent Tony Bennett in 2012. That was their second head-to-head match up, after the race that gave Fletcher the sheriff’s badge back in 1994. The 2012 primary knocked Bennett out of the seat he’d had had for four terms in the northern suburbs. Fletcher failed to make it to the general election, either, and Blake Huffman took the District 1 seat.

This year’s election will have some of the same flavor: also on the ballot with Fletcher this fall is tw0-term city council incumbent Joe Murphy, Bennett’s long time legislative aide.

Fletcher says he’s taking aim at the council in part because of the city’s calamitous decision to build the $26 million Vadnais Sports Center, which the county bought  in a $9.8 million fire sale earlier this year.

“You know, I’ve spent a lot of time in Vadnais,” Fletcher said in an interview today. “I’ve lived there for several years now, participated in the recreation programs, and experienced some decisions by the city council that have been disturbing, not the least of one is the sports center.” He’s also a veteran campaigner. He served on the St. Paul City Council in 1982, ’83 and ’84, ran for mayor against Jim Scheibel in 1989 and led a losing campaign in 1991 to repeal the gay rights provision in St. Paul’s human rights ordinance.

Murphy, who is confident he can keep his seat in the face of the Fletcher challenge, has his doubts about Fletcher and contends that the Vadnais Sports Center issue has been settled with the county purchase.

“I find it hard to believe a former county sheriff would truly be interested in the Vadnais Heights City Council,” Murphy said.

They’ll face off at the ballot box on Nov. 4.