Sheriff goes gunning for 3rd District seat

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Sheriff goes gunning for 3rd District seat By John A. Read — Staff Writer 8/22/02 Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas Wednesday sought endorsement of the Committee to Improve North County in his bid to replace 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall. Thomas spoke along withSheriff-Elect Jim Anderson, a 38-year resident of Lompoc who will take over for Thomas Sept. 21, to a luncheon gathering at the Rancho Santa Barbara Marriott. Thomas will step down early from his job to let Anderson take over and appointed the latter as undersheriff to make the transition smoother. The undersheriff is allowed by law to step in to replace a sheriff who steps down, but that process could be undercut if the Board of Supervisors choose someone besides the candidate elect to fill the spot between Sept. 20 and Anderson’s official term start in January, he said. With the filing deadline for candidates at 5 p.m. today, Thomas was unopposed on the recall ballot as of noon Wednesday. He said afterward he doesn’t expect anyone to file, since that would be an admission that Marshall’s hold on the district could be weak. Thomas alleged to about 60 INC guests and members that Marshall had engendered bad faith with her electorate because she had forgotten to “serve the public, not rule over them.” “Is there a lack of trust? Absolutely,” Thomas said, noting that in 51/2 years as supervisor, Marshall had only once sided with North County supervisors against South County supervisors in split votes. Marshall could not be reached for comment late Wednesday. She can be recalled if 50 percent of voters plus one vote to dump her from office, but Thomas needs only one vote to be put in if she is recalled, Thomas said. The candidate said there are no requirements for a recall. It is simply a means whereby the electorate can change its mind, Thomas said. He criticized Marshall actions relative to redistricting, saying she “disenfranchised 3,000 voters” by including federal prisoners. Thomas also criticized the Board of Supervisors actions in pursuing an oak tree ordinance contrary to public wishes and a proposal that was put on the table to hire a $150,000 a year “oak tree czar” to monitor oak trees on farmland. Thomas said he takes responsibility for his actions, mentioning the time he landed a plane with the wheels up and allowed an inmate to escape from jail. “When was the last time you saw the Third District representative take responsibility for anything?” he said to applause. Thomas and Anderson said they went to the board earlier this year to ask for an increase in benefits for deputies. Convincing the board to do so persuaded seven of 12 deputies planning to leave to stay, Anderson said. Made undersheriff in April, Anderson, who was stationed in Lompoc several times during his law enforcement career, said he has been meeting with staff and appreciated the time to get to know the position while Thomas was still in it. “Terrorism is still very much on the forefront,” he said, indicating there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes. Asked about progress for a North County jail, Anderson said that would take a “priority decision on the board’s part to get it done.” He said video arraignments are one way to cut down busing of prisoners back and forth across the county, but not all the legal system players had bought into the concept. Anderson also pledged support for the rural crimes task force and said salaries are not something that the sheriff typically gets involved in. He said that is more a matter between the employee unions and the Board of Supervisors. Anderson said there are currently 27 vacancies for deputy sheriffs countywide. Officials said it takes a year and about $120,000 to get a deputy trained to go on the street. The committee has actively supported a feasibility study for a split of Santa Barbara County into two counties. INC board member Harrell Fletcher said the last time such a study was done, investigators found the county wasn’t getting a source of state money it was entitled to and has more than made up for the cost of the initial study over the years. Later, Thomas said Lompoc voters could influence the outcome of the recall election. “Lompoc’s going to make all the difference on this one,” he said. Staff Writer John A. Read can be reached at 736-2313, Ext. 126, or by e-mail at :nav Source:

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