VIRGINIA CITY -- Running for his second term, Storey County Sheriff Pat Whitten said he loves living in Storey County and the challenges of the position.
Sitting behind his desk in the Storey County Courthouse, he said the transition from banker to sheriff brought him a welcome change.
"I love it," he said. "There's something new every day. I worked in eight different communities over 20 years, but the people I work with here are among the best."
Whitten is being challenged for the office by Stephen Bloyd, Tyler S. Clarke and Charles Porchia.
A manager and administrator with the Bank of America and retail business owner, Whitten first became acquainted with the area when he stayed in the Virginia City RV Park that he now owns and moved here with his wife, Peggy, and daughter Tobi in 1994.
He served in the Sheriff's Reserves for four years before making his first bid for sheriff in 1998 and took office in January 1999, preceded by Sheriff Bob Del Carlo, who held the office for 28 years.
Whitten said he respects Del Carlo's accomplishments and in the past four years tried to maintain the positive aspects, at the same time bringing his business acumen into the public sector.
He said the police cars, which had about 250,000 miles on them, have been replaced with later model vehicles. New radios were acquired from the Nevada Division of Investigation and, through a $54,700 grant, the 911 system will be enhanced in July. The new system allows officials to determine the location of a call electronically.
Whitten has also worked to involve his department in narcotics enforcement.
"The results haven't been as strong as I might have wished," he said. "But with patience, those efforts should improve."
His term was marred by the tragic death of local character Bob McKinney, shot to death May 10 by Storey County Sheriff's Deputy Mark McCreary after a confrontation between McKinney and some tourists outside the Firehouse Restaurant and Saloon.
Since that time, his deputies have been introduced to alternate options to law enforcement, including the use of electronic stun guns, known as Tasers, that will immobilize for a short time with no long-term effects.
Whitten was also criticized for not holding a Nevada POST certificate, which would allow him to carry a gun.
"I'm more of an administrator than a cop," he said.
Whitten, 49, said this will be his last term if he wins.
"I hope to serve one more term, then turn the job over to someone else," he said. "I'm looking forward to four more years, but then I want to kick back, relax and sleep all night."