The community had its first glimpse Monday of the five candidates running for Churchill County sheriff to succeed Ben Trotter, who decided in December to run for Justice of the Peace.
The five candidates gave gentlemanly overviews — without interrupting each other — on their backgrounds and philosophies during a one-hour forum at the William Pennington Life Center to about 60 residents, many of them senior citizens. While the candidates generally agreed with each other, they differed in some of their approaches in handling issues. Each candidate had 10 minutes to introduce himself.
Walter “Butch” Christie has previously run for sheriff and county commission. Christie said he moved to Fallon in 1952.
“If elected, I will restore the Constitution,” he said.
Since Christie’s name will be on top of the list, he encouraged those in attendance “to vote for the top guy” and asked for their support.
John Moser, who has lived in Fallon for 24 years, spoke next. Prior to moving to the Silver State, the New Jersey native enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1971 and served as a correctional specialist at the Norfolk Naval Base’s brig now known as the Joint Regional Correctional Facility Mid- Atlantic.
After serving with the Marine Corps, Moser worked with the Monmouth County (N.J.) Sheriff’s Department and then as a New Jersey state trooper before entering the private sector. With a desire to return to law enforcement, he accepted a position with the Nevada Department of Corrections and was later hired by Churchill County Sheriff Bill Lawry in 1996. Moser served in a variety of positions from patrol, narcotics, corrections and investigations. He retired from the CCSO, but he is now a sergeant with the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribal Police Department.
Moser said as a law enforcement officer, he assisted and resolved issues for families and also followed the ethics of honor, duty, integrity and fidelity. If elected sheriff, Moser said he would reconnect with the Churchill County residents and strengthen the motivation and purpose of the CCSO and work with the other agencies and community.
“I’m ready to take on the challenge,” he said.
Richard Hickox currently serves as a captain for the CCSO, a position he has held for more than three years. He graduated from the Peace Officers Standards and Training Academy with honors and began working in the detention section of CCSO in 1999. Hickox said during his career, he has been on patrol and in investigations for three years.
As a sergeant, Hickox said he worked with his shift of deputies to become better officers, and as an investigator, he worked major crimes in Churchill County to include sexual assault and homicide.
“I have a broader view of the sheriff’s office and how we respond within the community,” he said.
During his tenure with CCSO, Hickox, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, said he’s worked on a child death review team and with Child and Family Services, the Behavioral Health Task Force and other committees and boards connected to law enforcement and the community. If elected, he proposes additional meetings within the department to strengthen communication and to continue projects.
Hickox said he also would like to see the CCSO purchase its vehicles locally rather than from outside dealerships.
Ray East, who works for the Nevada Department of Corrections, holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Nevada, Reno and holds POST certificates from basic to executive. He recently completed the Certified Managers Program offered by the State of Nevada Executive Development.
East, who previously ran for sheriff in 2010, said his areas of concern include safe schools, consolidation of both the CCSO and the Fallon Police Department and drugs in the community.
East’s brochure outlines 14 major areas of police management training and an extensive background in law enforcement.
Jared Jones, a deputy with CCSO since 1998, has served in the detention center, patrol and undercover narcotics. He is now a patrol sergeant. Jones said he rewrote the field training manual which is still used.
The 20-year CCSO veteran outlined his goals if elected: Strengthen the morale in the department, restore the rank of corporal that provides more career movement for deputies, evaluate and streamline procedures to increase proficiencies, combine the CCSO and FPD dispatch centers for more efficiency and assign and trust the right people within the CCSO and allow them to do their jobs.
Jones said he would like to improve communication within the department.
One attendee asked the candidates if they enforce immigration laws. The candidates, though, said both the state and federal governments establish the policy but they will support the policies.
Andrea Zeller, executive director of the Churchill Community Coalition, asked if the candidates would continue working with the agency and keep its programs. The candidates said they would look at the programs and continue with them depending on administration approval and financial commitment.
East said he has worked with similar programs in corrections and would continue those programs at the CCSO.
The candidates still favor K-9 sniff searches at the schools for drugs. Moser, though, said agencies need to follow up and clean up the problem if drugs are detected.
“We need to investigate how the marijuana got there,” he said.
A former resident near the Bango Oil refinery plant said the pungent smell emitting from the facility is a problem and asked what each candidate would do. Several said they would cite Bango for the smell, but all generally agreed the problem rests with the Churchill County Commission.