I received this questionnaire from a citizen of Kootenai County.
1. What is the primary purpose of law enforcement?
To preserve the peace, ensure public safety, and uphold the law. Sheriff’s deputies and police officers should believe they are members of the community they serve.
2. Why have you chosen to run as Sheriff in Kootenai County and not elsewhere?
Before joining the race, I researched and interviewed other candidates.
I intended to find a candidate I could support, as I have done in the past. After that, I decided to enter the race. Kootenai County has been good to my family and me, and KCSO needs a strong, honest leader. Our Sheriff must provide the highest quality service possible. Along with that, the Sheriff and his deputies must be peace officers, not just law enforcement officers.
3. If a law was voted in that you thought was unconstitutional would you enforce it or direct deputies to enforce it?
This is a complex issue. There are currently Idaho statutes not enforced because they are unconstitutional. I recently got the city of Coeur d’Alene to stop enforcing part of their city code that was unconstitutional. The Sheriff should not enforce any unconstitutional law but there is a problem we need to acknowledge.
A Sheriff candidate can say whatever he wants. The reality is, citizens should not think electing a strong sheriff solves this problem. In Idaho, the Sheriff’s duties are largely defined by statute. Section 31-2227 allows the Governor to direct the Idaho State Police to act independently of the Sheriff and Prosecuting attorney “When in the judgment of the governor the penal laws of this state are not being enforced as written”. The Governor can even start proceedings to remove the Sheriff. This is why we need to research all candidates for all offices carefully. Virginia is an example of why this is important.
4. It is known within Kootenai County that KCSO has lost a good deal of deputies to other departments. What would you do to improve retention of deputies?
My complete answer is on my webpage, briefly: The problem is not just wages; it seldom is. People don’t leave good organizations; they leave bad managers. I obtained an email through public records request from a former deputy; here is an excerpt:
“Many individuals at the Sheriff’s Office have probably told you that we lose a substantial amount of employees to other agencies due to the wage difference. Although some have left for more money, they are the minority not the majority.”
A copy of this email and my plan can be seen here:
5. Would you support KCSO unionizing?
No. I do not support public-sector unions. I am not against all unions; some provide training opportunities, health care, etc. in addition to collective bargaining. In the private sector, we can choose whether or not to patronize a union business. With public-sector unions, we don’t have a choice of which agency we can use. If they provide poor quality, the community suffers.
6. What to you is the most important quality of a leader?
A natural desire to serve and a choice to lead.
A great leader is willing to perform any task alongside his crew. He maintains poise under pressure. He does not tolerate mediocrity, but will steadfastly defend his subordinates. In short, Good leaders lead, Great leaders inspire.
7. Would you enforce red flag firearm laws?
8. Would you utilize criminal asset forfeiture?
There is no simple answer to this. I am not a fan of civil asset forfeiture because of the abuse that has occurred across the nation.
As a reserve deputy, I once had a spirited discussion with another deputy over this. I disagreed that the $1500 he found in a motorist’s wallet should have been seized. His logic was, “who needs to carry around $1500 in cash?”. I knew it would likely cost more than $2500 to defend that $1500.
While others say there will be no civil asset forfeiture, I will be realistic. We will not make seizures in cases like the example above, but take the following example: I-90 is a well-known trafficking corridor. The KCSO makes a legal stop and discovers the vehicle to be full of drugs with $200k wrapped in plastic bags. The driver has an extraditable warrant from another state and tells the deputies he does not know who owns the money and drugs. No one comes forward to claim ownership of the funds. In this case, yes, we will seize the money.
Another problem is the mismanagement of CAF funds. A former Sheriff’s Captain is suing Kootenai County for wrongful termination. Part of the lawsuit alleges that the KCSO command was warned that a $30,000 payment from forfeiture funds to hire an individual at the Child Advocacy Center might not have been a legal use of forfeiture funds.
The public must trust their Sheriff; I would never allow a questionable seizure to jeopardize that trust. I would not use CAF funds for anything other than public safety and equipment, thereby reducing the burden on taxpayers.
9. What is your favorite book and why?
Skunkworks by Ben Rich. Why? I am a gearhead and a pilot. The book is about the development and testing of the F-117A stealth fighter at Lockheed’s legendary Skunk Works. The outside-the-box thinking of those brilliant scientists and engineers will inspire anyone stuck in the “we have always done it that way” mentality.
10. Would you be willing to give any hint as the type of culture you would foster within KCSO?
Much like I run my business, a family culture. Employees need to be appreciated and valued. This comes from the top. As the leader of the Sheriff’s office, I will personally get to know every employee, including their families. This is the expectation I will set for the Undersheriff and my command staff. I will maintain an open-door policy, and every KCSO employee will have my cellphone number.
11. What is your stance on community protection groups like Oath keepers or a local militia?
They can be valuable assets in times of crisis. I support them so long as they are willing to get properly trained and follow Idaho’s laws. I would call on them for help should we need additional assistance.
12. What is your stance on groups like Antifa and Patriot Prayer?
Any group like these that come to Kootenai County and engage in violence will be dealt with harshly, so they are less likely to return.
13. What is your favorite part of serving in law enforcement?
It was being able to help someone that could be having the worst day of their life.
14. What separates you from every other candidate?
I am not a career cop. Although I have some law enforcement experience, the office of Sheriff requires more than just law enforcement experience. My experience as a reserve deputy, decades of business and administrative skills, effective leadership and sound financial management history along with volunteering in the community, gives me the experience needed to effectively run your Sheriff’s department.
Is there anything you would like to comment on or make a statement about?
Commitment to, and involvement in, the community is easy if you only do it for a few months leading up to an election. Both Sara and I have long histories of service and we have deep roots in the community. We are involved in youth groups, community events, etc. and it takes time to really understand the culture of North Idaho. There is a certain level of commitment I feel toward my home. I am at a point in my life where I can afford to perform this vital act of public service.
The issues and problems facing the Sheriff’s office not unique to law enforcement. Problems of morale, organization, efficiency, and pay are problems faced by every organization and business to some degree. Successful leaders attract good employees. My undersheriff and any outside command staff will be experienced Idaho Peace Officers.
Idaho POST trains our peace officers, but there is something you can’t learn there: integrity. Although experience is good, electing someone just because they found their way to work for the past 20 years does not guarantee getting the best person for the job.
In April of last year, there was an article in Boise about the qualifications required to run for county sheriff. The Idaho Sheriffs Association commented and cited the case of disgraced Lincoln County Sheriff, Renee Rodriguez, as an example as to why the law should be changed. The problem is, Rodriguez was POST certified. He worked for the Blaine county SO, was later a police sergeant and interim police chief in Idaho before becoming Sheriff. From the time he was hired as a detention deputy, he was committing atrocious crimes, of which he is now convicted.
Questions have been raised as to whether other candidates are eligible for Idaho POST certification or might even be de-certified in the future. I want to assure the voters of Kootenai County that I am eligible to be POST certified.
One reason the County Sheriff is elected from among the citizens is that he needs to be accountable directly to you.