Candidate profile: Michael 'Tex' Teixeira

Michael Teixeira - Running for Sheriff.  photo Jayson Mellom 3-23-10
Michael Teixeira - Running for Sheriff. photo Jayson Mellom 3-23-10 The Tribune

A retired CHP officer who spent nearly 29 years of his career in downtown Los Angeles, Michael Teixeira said he’s seen random gang violence firsthand and has pledged to donate 20 percent of his salary as sheriff – about $3,000 a month – to gang-diversion programs.

“I envision the money going toward helping kids get into things like scouts,” he said.

Teixeria, 61, who was born and raised in the county, graduated from Morro Bay High School and Cuesta College. He spent the last six and a half years of his career at the Paso Robles Airport as a CHP pilot for traffic patrol, where he met a number of sheriff’s deputies. He retired in May 2009.

“It’s obvious they are hard-working guys,” he said, “but because of problems with management, the department kind of got a black eye, and I don’t think people doing the work really deserve that reputation.”

If elected, Teixeira would consider eliminating the undersheriff position to staff possibly two deputies. He’d also analyze where people are assigned, perhaps reshuffle some positions, create proposed budget scenarios and prioritize what programs could be reduced.

Q&A: Four questions for Michael 'Tex' Teixeira

Q. There have been some high-profile examples in recent years of problems within the Sheriff’s Department that have caused image problems and led the public to question the leadership of the department. How would you restore public confidence in the department? How would you change the culture within the department?

A. The Sheriff’s Department needs a fresh start. Sometimes it takes someone from outside to provide that start. I am not a member of the “good old boy” network and I have neither friends nor enemies in the department. My “outsider” status will allow me to make decisions and implement changes without worrying about angering enemies or pleasing friends. I will be available to the public and the media to praise our successes and explain our failures. The Professional Standards/Internal Affairs unit will be reestablished to investigate allegations of misconduct. Every departmental employee will be held to the same high standards.

Q. What do you view as the top crime issue facing the unincorporated areas of the county and how would you address it?

A. I feel that gangs are the top crime issue in the unincorporated areas of this county. I learned from my experience working with gangs in downtown Los Angeles that it takes more than just aggressive enforcement to stop their growth. We must provide positive alternatives to gang membership for our young people through a cooperative effort of schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, public service groups and government. Our efforts must be focused on children starting with kindergarten through middle school. To provide leadership and help fund the effort I will donate 20 percent of my sheriff’s salary to gang diversion programs.

Q. If asked to cut 10 percent of your budget, how would you do that while still maintaining current levels of service?

A. It is not possible to maintain current service levels with a 10 percent budget cut. The Sheriff’s Department budget is approximately $57 million, of which approximately 85 percent is salary. A 10 percent budget cut would require a $5.7 million savings. Maintaining current service levels would require saving $5.7 million out of the $8.55 million discretionary portion of the budget. That discretionary portion of the budget puts gas in the patrol cars, pays the electric bill and feeds the prisoners. My priority in meeting any budget cuts would be to maintain staffing levels in patrol units and in the jail.

Q. If elected, how would you establish a relationship with other elected leaders, especially the Board of Supervisors? What specifically would you do to improve relations with the board?

A. During my campaign I have met individually with each member of the Board of Supervisors. I have attended the City Council meetings of all the cities in San Luis Obispo County and the Community Service District meetings in Nipomo, Oceano, and Cambria. After the election I will continue to attend these meetings regularly to explain the operations of the Sheriff’s Department and address the concerns of the public.To improve the relationship between the board and the sheriff I will meet regularly with them and address any issues they may have with department polices, operations and/or expenditures.