Absentee vote could change sheriff’s race

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Absentee vote could change sheriff’s race By Karen White — Staff Writer 3/7/02 With more than 12,000 absentee ballots to count, it could be several days before voters know the outcome of the tight race for Santa Barbara County Sheriff-Coroner. “We are on pins and needles,” said Cmdr. Jim Anderson, a 26-year veteran of the department and the apparent winner. He received 50.3 percentage of the vote in Tuesday’s primary. Anderson said he is optimistic he will continue to hold the lead, but “my fingers are crossed.” He wanted to see the election over, after campaigning for a year and two months for the position. The second-place candidate, former Undersheriff Dave Dorsey, received 28.7 percent. Any drop in Anderson’s final vote count below 50 percent plus one vote would force a run-off vote between Anderson and Dorsey in November. County election workers hope to get absentee ballot counts updated by Tuesday. The certification making the election official is slated for April 2. Until that time, all vote tallies are unofficial. In addition to 12,243 absentee ballots, there are 761 provisional ballots to be considered. Of the absentee ballots, 7,378 were mailed. Retiring Sheriff-Coroner Jim Thomas, whose term runs through 2002, said he does not believe the absentee votes will make much of a change. Anderson said Thomas has contacted him, pledging a smooth transition, despite the fact that Thomas supported Dorsey. “It was a hard-fought campaign,” Thomas said. Many of the employees of the department were involved in the campaign, which was a four-man contest. He said he told many people in his department “not to lose friends” during the election. Thomas has had his own campaign battles to contend with. Sheriff John Carpenter narrowly defeated Thomas, then a sheriff’s lieutenant, in June 1986. He came back in 1990, after Carpenter retired, to win the position in a contest with another ranked sheriff’s commander. He then ran unopposed both in 1994 and 1998. “This one was a little more emotional,” he said, referring to the feeling of the individuals inside the department during the most recent campaign. The rank-and-file Deputy Sheriff’s Association endorsed Anderson and gave him a $50,000 donation. A group of administrators endorsed Dorsey. Anderson, commander of the branch jails, who has campaigned on vacation time, returns to work today. He has not talked to Thomas about a change in job assignment, but said it was possible he would be shifted from his current post to training with Thomas, and someone else would be promoted to commander. There have been rumors that Thomas might retire earlier than the end of the year. It is known that Thomas, who lives in the Santa Ynez Valley, is interested in campaigning for 3rd District supervisor if the recall process against the present supervisor, Gail Marshall, is successful. Such an election might come between June and August, and if Thomas were to be elected, he would have to retire as sheriff. Anderson’s immediate step as sheriff, as pledged during his campaign, will be to get more staffing “on the street” for public safety. Six upcoming retirements, military leaves, injuries and vacancies have left the sheriff’s department short of resources for “basic law enforcement,” Anderson believes. He also will create a specific testing process that is consistent, allowing officers equal chances to prepare for promotions. Anderson also talked about this plan during this campaign. “I will be very fair with everybody,” he said. Practicing what he preaches as a law enforcement professional, Anderson and several friends spent Wednesday taking down campaign signs. He said there have been lots of controversy about campaign signs and he does not want to be the cause of any concern. Staff writer Karen White can be reached at (805) 739-2217 or by e-mail at kwhite@pulitzer.net :nav Source: http://www.lompocrecord.com/articles/2002/03/07/news/export5898.txt

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