The Sheriff’s Department needs to deal with a budget crunch; encourage training, use of technology and public transparency; and discourage gangs, candidates for sheriff said Wednesday.
The six candidates spoke to about three dozen people at a luncheon of the Cambria Area Republican Women Federated at The Brambles Dinner House in Cambria.
Each candidate gave a 10-minute stump speech at what was the fifth of at least 10 scheduled forums leading up to the June 8 primary election. Each talked about his law enforcement résumé and how he’d make the department better if elected.
Running are Cmdr. Ben Hall and Deputy Mark Adams of the Sheriff’s Department, San Luis Obispo Police Department Capt. Ian Parkinson, former Pismo Beach Police Chief Joe Cortez, former San Luis Obispo police sergeant and county Supervisor Jerry Lenthall, and retired CHP Sgt. Michael “Tex” Teixeira.
Each candidate stressed the need to increase collaboration within the department and with other departments and run a tight financial ship.
Hall has said he would eliminate the more than $150,000 per year under-sheriff position, and Lenthall said if he can save 3 percent on the jail’s budget, he could put 5.5 more deputies on the street.
Lenthall said there’s a need for a state ballot initiative to ban state raids on funds that normally go to local government agencies.
If elected, Teixeira pledged to give 20 percent of his salary to help put together a group of nonprofit organizations to raise money to give kids alternatives to joining gangs.
Adams supports forming a multijurisdictional gang task force.
All said there should be more transparency about how the Sheriff’s Department is run, how it spends its money and how deputies go about their job.
Cortez suggested holding “coffee-cabinet” meetings in smaller communities, including Cambria. Hall said he would be available for online question-and-answer sessions and proposed putting a substation in Cambria.
Cortez stressed the importance of better disaster management preparation, and Teixeira mentioned improving deputies’ ability to recognize when a person really is drug-impaired.
Parkinson and Adams would like to see improved use of technology, including installation of computers in vehicles. Parkinson added that the department should push for advanced cell phone coverage in Cambria, as it is important for emergency law enforcement use.
“It’s wonderful to have such a good field” of candidates, said audience member Jan Lloyd, a Cambria Realtor.
John Angel, a former director of the Cambria Community Services District, said the event “was very helpful to me but I did not come away thinking ‘I’m going to vote for this guy.’ ”