Candidates for Carson City sheriff told Kiwanis on Thursday they plan create a more unified community and more programs to help youth before the young people become tangled in the criminal justice system.
Carson's most contested election race this year boasts three members of the city's sheriff's office and two state workers, all with backgrounds in law enforcement. In three-minute introductions, most of the candidates alluded to wanting to increase programs for volunteers within the sheriff's office and wanting the sheriff to be more a part of the community.
"I feel as a sheriff, you are part of building the community and should be known," candidate Richard Mendoza, a Carson sheriff's detective.
Mendoza, a 21-year sheriff's department veteran, added Carson City is facing "big city problems" such as a proliferation of drugs through the community, a problem he intends to address as sheriff.
Candidate Kenny Furlong, a Nevada Division of Investigations major crimes unit detective, said the sheriff should be "community oriented and draw the community together."
The candidates -- including Chief Deputy Scott Burau; Wayne Fazzino, an investigator for the attorney general; and Deputy Bob Guimont -- echoed similar refrains on the issues of drugs, community relations and others issues from community involvement to the addition of counseling programs for inmates .
All candidates committed returning to the community youth programs like the Cadet program, as well as creating more youth and senior volunteer programs.
"We need to expand on every opportunity to teach these youth to make good decision making skills," Furlong said.
However, they differed on how the department was wasting money. All acknowledged repeat calls and dealing with repeat offenders drains the potential patrol time of city deputies. But Furlong said departments are "obligated to spend money to provide that service."
All candidates said while they believe criminal rehabilitation is important, they were split between saying it isn't always effective -- Furlong and Mendoza -- and that it is necessary in today's justice system -- Fazzino and Guimont, who added that rehab and religion should go hand in hand in jails. Burau agreed to its importance but said there is no budget to support a full-blown rehab program at the Carson City jail.
Guimont, who's worked for the sheriff's department for seven years, said he want to give community members a "voice" in the department's direction. Picking up on the drug theme, he noted children have to be targeted with programs to bring the anti-drug message into community homes.
Fazzino committed to doing more for sheriff's deputies, whom he called community heroes.
Burau, a 25-year veteran, noted he's intricately involved in management of the sheriff's department. He said Carson City's crime rate rose .9 percent compared to a 2 percent national average.
"That tells me, and should tell you, that we're doing the right thing," he said. "Being sheriff is more than just a popularity contest. It's an $11 million business."