Sheriff Race Candidates
By Ron Lee
Below you will find an overview
of each of the candidates for sheriff and what they wanted the citizens
of this county to know about them, their qualifications and what they
see as the issues that face the department.
Straight from the tape:
Q) Give me
some background ... where were you born?
A) "I was born up in,
actually, Corvallis, Oregon. My parents were at Oregon State and so
I grew up in Portland and then I went to school back at Corvallis. I
tell everyone when I see they have their beaver stuff or duck stuff
on ... I always ask them if they were a true person, did they go to
school there? My wife is from Grants Pass. Her name is Julie and we
have one daughter. She is sixteen. It's interesting when they're a teen.
Q) Why do you
want to be Sheriff?
A) I think it's that I enjoy
living here doing what I'm doing. I've been in the sheriff's office
... for 22 years and I really think it's going to be critical for someone
to have the experience who knows the whole sheriff's office inside and
out and has the training and the background to do it. Because I like
it here and I think it's important to have the right person at the top.
I've worked for 5 sheriffs now and, you know, I've learned something
from each one. And I think I can do a good job. I want to do a good
Q) And what
did you learn from Daniel?
A) Sometimes he makes decisions
that, um, he doesn't think them through, but he's pretty straight forward,
he'll tell you like it is. And sometimes ... I'm not a fan of fighting
a lot of those battles that he fights on the front page of the paper.
I don't think that's the way to go about it but that's his style. Just
some of his decisions I wish were made differently.
Q) There has
been a lot of criticism of this department.
Q) So how do
you feel you are going to be able to change that image?
A) Well it starts at the
top and you need the right person at the top. And you need to set a
professional image at the top. And you need to hold the people accountable.
Good training, you know we try to do a lot of training already. But
the more training you do the less time you have on the street. And I
think it's important to have the right people next to you in command
Q) Is there
anything you want to say to the people of the county? I mean give me
your best pitch.
A) Best pitch, huh (laughter),
I think you need to ... with the potential loss of O&C funding and
if it looks like its going to go ... we need someone with budget experience,
who knows how to work with a tight budget ... who works well with others.
You know I have a reputation of working well with others and that is
going to be important and that's coming down the pipe. Some of these
other people who are running don't have budget experience, they're not
even certified police officers in Oregon. Takes time to go back and
get certified and that's time away from the office. It's going to be
critical to have a person with that kind of experience.
Q) What do
you feel is the biggest law enforcement challenge this county faces?
A) Funding. Funding. I mean
you look at ... we don't have stabilized funding so we end up losing
a lot of our officers to other agencies because they might not have
a job next year. And to me you can't fight the meth problem and any
of those other issues if you don't have the staff to do it. You need
detectives. You need deputies out there handling calls. You need directors
for when people call in. You need the jail, a jail that's adequately
funded to house people. I think funding is the biggest issue.
Don Fasching jumped right
into his interview bringing up a point of issue that he has been facing
in his campaign locally by being the newest to the area saying that
it had even been brought up by individuals asking, "what kind of
vested interest do you have in the county if you have only been here
two years?" Answering to this Fasching stated that he'd like people
to look at the credentials of the individuals running and not how long
they have lived in the area. He even went on to say that by being new
it made it better as he didn't owe anyone anything.
Fasching's father was in
the service and spent some time in San Diego where his sister was born
prior to moving to North Dakota where he and his brother were born.
Don was born in Beach, North Dakota in 1949. In 1952 his mother decided
she was tired of the winters there and they moved the family back to
San Diego where his mother has resided ever since.
In 1967 he graduated from
college and instead of getting drafted into the Viet-Nam war he enlisted
in the army. In 1970 he was assigned to defense and White House communications
where he worked for two and a half years. "That was fun. I enjoyed
Washington D.C." he said.
In 1973 he left the service
and joined the Fairfax, Virginia police department where he drove a
beat car for almost 7 years. He said that he always wanted to go into
In 1979 he left Fairfax
and headed back to San Diego where he attended another police academy,
which he said was one of the hardest things he ever had to do because
of his age at the time. After completing the academy he moved into patrol
for a number of years before moving up the ranks into the field training
office where he was in charge of assigning training officers for the
department. In 1985 he was promoted to sergeant and went back to patrol
before being moved over into the academy where he ran the defensive
tactics program for two and a half years. "As far as training issues
I can do it all, have done it all." Fasching stated.
To make a long and career
short he served in K-9 while also teaching in the academy before moving
over into internal affairs where he served for two years as well as
eventually being elected as a director of the police association where
he was in charge of the police officer defense fund and treasurer in
charge of a budget of over a million dollars per year. He even got to
spend time in the mounted unit doing crowd control on horseback.
He says he has the most
law enforcement experience here in the United States and that there
isn't a law enforcement personnel issue that he hasn't seen or dealt
with during his career. Speaking on this he said, "So, I bring
that, and I feel I bring a lot more than any of the other candidates
in that regard."
His wife, Sue Ellen, who
served 27 years in the San Diego police Department and served her last
7 years as a homicide detective had family who moved into the Grants
Pass area and they fell in love with it, so they decided to retire here.
He says that it was through friends at his church in Cave Junction that
first asked him to run as sheriff.
He says he can't promise
he'll be able to put more deputies out on the streets right away because
of budget constraints, but that he can be productive with what the department
Saying what he'd like the
county residents to know, he stated, "I have the background ...
I don't have any hidden agendas. I'm not out here to change the world,
I know it's going to be a slow process, but it can be done ...”
Gil Gilbertson was born
in Waterloo, Iowa in 1947 and stayed there through his high school years.
Just two weeks after graduation he set off with the Navy where he spent
most of his time overseas which included Viet Nam. Just prior to his
21st birthday his Navy tour ended and he spent some time living in Southern
California before returning to his home town of Waterloo.
Back in Waterloo Gil joined
the police department, a career choice he says he has always loved.
After an early stint as a reserve he was hired-on in 1975 as a full-time
Re-entering the military
in 1980 Gil joined-up with the Iowa Air National Guard in the law enforcement
field and later transferred into the Iowa Army National Guard, and finally
the Army Reserves rounding out a total of 17 years of military service
while simultaneously serving as a reservist in the Waterloo Police Department.
This also launched what
would become a lifetime career as a law enforcement instructor and in
1988 he co-founded the International Law Enforcement Training Group
who's clients included the Army, Air Force, and Marines. He, at one
time, taught 53 different topics including explosives, use of force,
defensive tactics, officer survival techniques, S.W.A.T., and many others
which he often wrote and published training manuals for.
Choosing to move closer
to the rest of his family, Gil moved his home base to Josephine County
in 1991 but this didn't mean he stayed put.
In 1996 he went to Bosnia
through DynCorp, a contractor to the Department of State, and in 1998
was sent into Kosovo - details of which he said I could get from his
web site at www.gilgilbertson.com. Through DynCorp he also served in
Iraq and New Orleans in the wake of Katrina.
In 2003, however, he met
the love of his life and in 2004 decided to stay home, unless absolutely
needed, and married her. He and his wife Diann own and operate Blind
George’s News Stand. Diann has two daughters, whom Gil lovingly
calls his own.
As for what he wanted to
say to the county residents, "My life, my career, my passion has
been law enforcement. This job is not for everyone. The ones that choose
to follow this career path are usually people with a strong desire to
help others, and I see our current sheriff's department suffering from
poor administrative decisions made over the years. I see it and the
public needing help which is why feel strongly compelled to “step-up-to-the-plate”
and offer my experience ... This is our home. It is up to all of us,
in our own ways, to play a positive role in the development of our community
and my role can best be served as sheriff."
“I was born in Gardena,
California and was basically raised in Hermosa Beach where I grew up
and learned to surf and hunted horny toads in the fields." Kelly
said when asked where he was born.
He went on to say that he
had gone to Long Beach State University and after graduation became
a police officer in the mid 1970's where he started out in patrol and
worked his way up into under-cover narcotics and then homicide investigations
as well as becoming a field training officer. As a sergeant he also
served on S.W.A.T. and quickly became watch commander. As watch commander
he was the supervisor of patrol and the jail.
Saying of California, "You
get a lot of training and we qualified once a month down there, something
I'd like to see us do up here ..." He went on to say that he had
loved it down there.
He said the reason he is
in law enforcement is that he used to see things happen at an early
age that he knew was wrong and wanted to do something about it, so he
knew that was what he wanted to do.
In 1991 he and his wife
moved into Oregon where he wanted to retire, but he says that he just
got bored. "I was watching the show COPS one day and I was yelling
at the TV so my wife told me it was time to go back to work," he
said with a smile.
Soon thereafter he came
to the Josephine County Sheriff's Department as a reserve and was quickly
promoted to Sergeant then Lieutenant where he took part in doing internal
investigations and they soon asked him to come on full time. When he
went through the academy he won three awards; he won the shooting award,
the academic award, and the award for best overall deputy.
When asked why if he had
all of these awards he was placed in the jail he said that when he came
back to the county as a full deputy he chose the jail, but he did go
on to say that it went beyond his choice alone. "When I started
working for the jail everybody said, 'oh, you're going to be the next
sergeant ... he's going to promote quickly' because I had plenty of
experience. But I noticed that one of the supervisors was sexually harassing
some of the female deputies and citizens, so I filed a complaint.”
According to Kelly the complaint
went unanswered for about 6 months until one of the female deputies
came forward and filed her own complaint. He was called into the office
where he was told by Daniel that the supervisor was demoted and that
lay-offs were going to be happening soon and that he'd be gone. But
somehow this supervisor was able to fight back his seniority prior to
the lay-offs and stayed with the department. According to Kelly this
supervisor has continued to harass the women in the department and even
"went off" on one female corporal who reprimanded him, but
when the internal investigation took place the administration found
that he was acting within his rights of freedom of speech.
Kelly said, "I don't
know if they hired me thinking I was going to be a 'Good Old Boy' but
I think they realized I wasn't going to be ..."
He went on to relate a story
about a colored man who came into the jail that was treated deplorably
and was eventually hazed stating that he filed a complaint on this instance
as well, this time for excessive force. For Kelly it has seemed like
every time he has filed a complaint, he is the one who gets disciplined.
He feels so strongly that
the department is being mismanaged that he decided to run for its head
seat, sheriff. He said that he's concerned for the county saying that
he is afraid that the citizens will elect a politician instead of a
true working sheriff which he is committed to being, even getting behind
the wheel of a squad car and taking shifts in the jail.
He wants to open the sheriff's
position to regular town-hall style discussions where any citizen came
come forward and discuss with him the workings of the office or even
submit complaints directly to him.
According to Kelly he isn't
afraid to do what is necessary to be sheriff, even if that means to
make drastic cuts. "I'm a realist. The citizens aren’t going
to give us any extra money to run this department. We need to run it
with what we have."
He said that he
wanted the citizens of the county to know that, "We are in a crisis.
I don't think they are going to elect somebody who will solve all of
their problems, I think we are going to have to do it as a team. I think
there are a lot of people out there (in the department) that are afraid
that if I were to get it (the sheriff's position) the gravy-train would
go away ... Well, the gravy-train should go away."
do your part and vote!