Sheriff Ken Furlong at a Wednesday night candidates’ forum faced criticism from opponents about staffing in the community, but was given credit for combating gangs.
The incumbent sheriff faces three opponents in the June 10 primary election, after which two of the four running are likely to advance to November’s general election. The opponents are Don Gibson and Daniel Gonzales, both of the sheriff’s department, and Lorne Houle, who cited experience as a Marine provost marshal. Gibson and Gonzales took Furlong to task over staffing.
“Morale is dismal at best in the sheriff’s office,” said Gibson, calling for re-allocation of resources to provide more deputies in the field. He said minimum line staffing per shift should be seven rather than five. Gonzales, meanwhile, put it in terms of services to citizens. “We should have more field services to provide for you,” he said. Gonzales also called for new technology and newer patrol cars.
Furlong responded administration at the top is thin and said he has replaced an outgoing captain with two line officers, as well as making other changes to help deploy more deputies, which prompted a response from Gonzales about top personnel. Gonzales said Furlong now has a captain fulfilling a higher level role and raised the spectre of the sheriff playing games over the issue. “We can play title games all day long,” said Gonzales.
The sheriff said he has rolled back supervisory positions and contended every person in his administration, no matter at what level, works on the front lines as well.
Furlong touted his gang-fighting record, calling it “probably one of the best things we’ve done in the past four years.” He said he has zero tolerance for gangs. None of the challengers disagreed, crediting him on that score. Gibson said he would continue taking an “aggressive stance” on gangs, then used part of his time instead to say he wasn’t just a candidate taking votes away from either Furlong or Gonzales.
The forum at the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall attracted a packed house for the sheriff’s portion, and it also was televised. The forum was put on by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce and was televised via ACCtv for public access viewing, with taping for repeats later. The event also included legislative candidates and the four people running in two wards for city supervisor.
When the supervisors went last, there were fewer in the BAC hall audience, in part because it was later. It also may have been with just two candidates in each ward, all four are automatically on the November general election ballot.
John McKenna and Lori Bagwell, the candidates in Ward 3, as well as Karen Abowd and Lisa Helget, the candidates in Ward 1, were asked to list top issues.
McKenna said city government must restore fiscal reserves and keep staff down after the recent recession. Bagwell listed preserving Western Nevada College, and being a “fiscal hawk” because declining population means tax revenues may decline.
Helget’s top issue was the one-eighth of a penny sales tax increase for capital projects, which she said people should have been able to vote on, and doing the animal shelter first among those projects. Abowd listed economic revitalizations to boost sales tax receipts while limiting spending, as well as preservation of WNC as a community resource.
McKenna and Abowd are the incumbents in their districts, Bagwell and Helget the challengers come the November balloting.