Should Our Elected Leaders Get Along?
Updated: Mar 27, 2022
I get asked a lot about my relationship with our Sheriff (which is good), and how it will affect my decision-making as your County Commissioner. Here's my answer:
As a business owner my bosses are my customers. As your County Commissioner, my bosses are you, my constituents.
I say that because my track record is about carving my own path in life...not waiting on orders from some manager. It would be no different as your County Commissioner. Nobody would be telling me what to do except you the voters.
My main objectives are to address the irresponsible growth and fix some of the personnel issues we're facing. Those are two big issues of many.
With respect to irresponsible growth, the first thing I would try to do is make sure that any new growth properly pays for itself. We cannot tax existing residents out of the community.
This also applies to cities and our state legislature. I would be a voice and try to work with other elected officials to ensure that all growth can pay for itself. We also need to ensure that growth is commensurate with what voters want here. I have yet to meet anybody who thinks we're growing too slowly.
911 Hold Music?
With respect to personnel, we are currently 30% vacant in our 911 Dispatch center. That's unacceptable. Imagine calling 911 and hearing hold music during YOUR EMERGENCY? You see, this is a 24-hour operation. When 3 out of 10 positions are vacant, the remaining 7 employees have to fill the vacant shifts. The longer hours can lead to fatigue and -- unfortunately -- mistakes. But there's more.
Our jail deputies are currently about 25% vacant. Sure, there are a bunch on training now, but they are still trainees and have not passed certification. Not every one of them will make it or want to stay.
Because our jail is so short staffed, inmates have had to be transferred to a Washington county jail, which now cost the county an additional $90/day for each transferred inmate. As a consequence, the U.S. Marshalls cancelled their $389,000 contract with the county. That's more expense combined with less revenue as a result of under-funding our Sheriff's Office. How is that good for you, the taxpayer?
All of these cascading series of failures have occurred during the tenure of my opponent, Chris Fillios. Yet he takes zero responsibility for his intentional under-funding of these two critical county functions. That's wrong.
Other parts of the county are short staffed, too. If you watch BOCC meetings, it's not uncommon for Department Heads to regularly request raises for existing staff so they can increase job offer salaries to hire for critical positions. It's the "new normal" of crisis management.
Sadly, these are problems that have taken years to get to, and (again) they all happened under the watch of my opponent. He was one of the biggest drivers for us getting here and I intend to reverse it and make it right.
Voters are shocked when I bring these facts to their attention.
They have no idea it's that bad. Fortunately, revenue streams are growing, so I do not believe this will cost extra to taxpayers, and I'm okay if we don't achieve full vacancy. But I will say that solving these problems are a lot easier when you have good working relationships with other elected officials.
I've already made it a point to meet with the other elected officials and to establish positive dialogue with them. We will need everyone on board if we are going to fix many of the county's problems that have been ignored by current leadership.
So I say "YES" we should get along and get to work!
Full Disclosure: My understanding of the issues with our Sheriff's Office are because I am a Special Deputy Advisor to our Sheriff. One must pass a full background investigation in order for a person to have access to such issues within the Office. This applied to me as well. Other elected officials are facing significant issues, too, but I do not work with them and do not have the same access to those issues.