Should be Sheriff?
The Josephine County Conundrum
Dave Daniel has done a bang-up
job as Sheriff. Unfortunately, his name isn't on the ballot in this
go-around so it makes the decision of who NOT to vote for a lot more
difficult. Well, I take that back, he is running for county commissioner,
so I get to cross him off early on there, that makes me happy. I mean,
really, why would I vote someone into a controlling seat of the county
when he has made a car wreck more appealing than the current state of
the sheriff's department - my meaning of bang-up job.
I in no way mean to slight
the wonderful deputies in the department who above all serve and protect
their community with pride. If it were up to me, they'd all get raises
- with the exception, of course, to the top-dog behind the desk, that
position makes enough already. Being a deputy is a difficult, dangerous
job that is, for the most part, disrespected until an officer of the
law is needed, and then everyone is glad to see them. For me, I don't
get nervous when a police officer or deputy is behind me in traffic
or if I see them drive by my house real slow, and if I do see them in
passing, I give them a wave - just like I do with every fire engine
that rolls by. Why? Because I completely respect them and what they
do for us - they put their lives on the line daily, not because it is
their job, but because they feel that they should, which is why they
have chosen their profession.
Deputies getting harassed
and fired, interoffice cover-ups, all just due to a plain lack of true
leadership. This has ultimately resulted in a department that isn't
trusted by the public and has one of the worst morale issues with deputies
being torn between what is right and what is administered, and it is
now, thankfully, coming to an end. Because any law enforcement or sheriff's
department (administration) that allows criminals to get away with just
about anything if they live far enough out to avoid any type of patrol
because of a lack of deputies, needs to change for the sake of the public
it has sworn to protect. Excuses of under-funding fall on deaf ears
when someone has an emergent situation like many in the Illinois Valley
area who are forced to fend for themselves because of the current state
of the department.
That leads me to the incessant
ramble we heard throughout both Daniel terms, "We need more money!"
Not an exact quote, but there were so many renditions of this statement
I'm sure Dave used this one at some point and it has been this platform
of his administration that has made him an ineffective tool and guide
for the department.
So as part of my
job as a reporter with the US~Observer I decided it would be best to
talk to all of the candidates. Get the low-down on where they are and
what they stand for. Engage them in simple talk that would lead them
to fill in the blanks for me instead of trying to manipulate their answers
with loaded questions (well, I asked a couple of those questions, too
... see the
unbiased, non-commentary overview of the candidates) and what I
found made me wonder why we don't treat the sheriff's department like
the office of the president. You know, you vote for the president and
vice-president. The same should be true of sheriff and under-sheriff.
Part of my thinking behind this ideology is that I liked several of
these guys a lot and I could see where one's weaknesses where covered
by the other's strengths and I thought how perfect it would be if I
could just get these guys to work together. But that isn't the game
of politics, and no matter what any of them say, the political game
of getting elected is exactly what they are engaging in.
To be honest, there was
only one that I didn't care for. That I felt wouldn't lead us to a better
department and a more protected citizenry, and perhaps that came from
my personal feeling that if you are not part of the solution you are
part of the problem. There have been no solutions in this current administration,
just more and more problems, and Brian Anderson has been a key figure
in its workings as under-sheriff. And, unfortunately, Anderson is already
sounding the same old tired trumpet call of under funding. Sure it is
a problem, could even be the biggest problem, but the citizens want
to know how you will lead, and by that I don't mean back to the ballot
box trying to get more funding from them.
Of the remaining three,
Don Fasching, Gil Gilbertson, and Spike Kelly I guess I could say I
wish all three of these guys could just get along and work the department
together. Each one has great individual assets and levels of experience
in different realms of administration and police work. And most importantly,
each one is really running to better the county through what they see
as the changes they could administer as head of the sheriff's department.
If I were to vote on administrative
qualities alone it would be Gil Gilbertson with Don Fasching a close
second. Both have the hardcore budgetary and personnel experience that
is needed for the office.
If I was to vote
on my feeling of who is the most easily likeable and can handle interoffice
personnel issues, that would be Spike Kelly hands down. He has such
a natural best friend approach that it is very endearing, and he, too,
is also quite experienced and has shown his integrity by standing up
for other deputies who were being mistreated both ethically and legally
during this current administration. He is an incredible asset to the
department, without question, and I have nothing but respect for him,
but I do not feel he is right for the position of sheriff. I just don't
think he has a strong enough administrative background.
I mean really, I want someone
in the office who will squeeze blood out of a turnip and knows how to
deal with a large workforce. Someone who isn't afraid of paperwork and
knows every aspect of training ... I want a sheriff that is honestly
the best of the best!
Don Fasching has a great
deal of experience and is also very likeable, not to mention, suave
and well worded. He has much to offer and even though he is the most
recent of the Josephine County residents, it doesn't mean to say that
he believes in the county's safety or well being any less than the next
candidate. Does he have what it takes to be sheriff? Sure. Absolutely.
Do I think he should be? No. Why? Because, in my opinion, he simply
isn't the most qualified for the position.
Like I said, I
want the best of the best, and anyone who could walk into a war-torn
country that is rife with political and social upheaval, economic insecurity,
and crime rates through the roof, be assigned a precinct and turn his
area around within two years so that his station is no longer needed
is my kind of guy for the job. With glowing letters of recommendation
from a US Ambassador and an Army General who both praise his accomplishments
and acknowledge his leadership abilities, it's about time we got such
an outstanding candidate as Gil Gilbertson. While his kind personality
shines through in the more intimate setting of a small group or one-on-one
than it does when he is faced by a larger group like that of a political
rally or forum, he is a man who is all business and luckily for us he
has chosen that business to be that of being our next sheriff.
One thing is for certain,
should Gil, Don, or Spike get into office I am sure you will see positive
changes in the department.
This election is, I feel,
one of the most important decisions local voters face in this round
of public governmental participation. No matter who you vote for, just
know that your vote does count. Don't just sit there and roll the dice.
About the Author:
Ron Lee has been a freelance and published writer since 1985. He attended
Richmond University in London where he focused on theatre arts, and
the University of Nevada Reno where he dual majored in criminal justice
and psychology. He currently spends his time helping the US~Observer's
clients with his no nonsense investigative reporting style. Ron may
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Favorite quote, "The truth shall make you free." --John VIII. 32