This writer does not normally pay attention to elections for Stanislaus County Sheriff, but this year’s race between incumbent Adam Christiansen versus one of his deputies, Tom Letras, could be interesting. The incumbent has a bona fide challenger and issues appear to exist.
Analysis by a Local Businessman
A longtime local business owner talked to this writer about the race. He was quite animated about the performance of the incumbent Sheriff, citing a litany of grievances.
The business owner said that because of the negligence of Sheriff Christiansen, the department had to pay off about $5 million in lawsuits. He said that because of the pay off, the Sheriff was 22 men short in the jails. Because the jails were 22 men short, the jails had to let out over 200 criminals before the end of their sentences. Because the criminals were let out early, Stanislaus County has experienced an unprecedented crime spree.
The business owner further lamented that the average voter no longer reads the local newspaper and is ill informed. He predicted that Christiansen would easily be elected because the voters aren’t paying attention to what is going on in the Sheriff’s office.
Pollsters have found that with all things being equal, incumbents have a 20 percent advantage among voters. If the voters are as uninformed as the business owner contends, then Adam Christiansen will be reelected in a cakewalk.
The Helicopter Shenanigan
When former Sheriff Les Weidman held office, his employees allegedly went hunting with the Sheriff in the County owned helicopter. On one occasion wine was reportedly delivered to a social event at Diablo Grande golf course using the same helicopter.
Incumbent Adam Christiansen reportedly continued the tradition of questionable usage of the Stanislaus County helicopter when he took it into San Joaquin County to drop golf balls on a golf course for a charity event. The Sheriff justified the decision based on the fact that the helicopter was in use for training purposes anyway and that it was not needed within the County at the time it was diverted. Critics contended that the helicopter could have been needed within Stanislaus County and that the diversion reduced the ability of the department to respond to an emergency had one arisen.
Death In The Men’s Jail
Former Modesto Mayor Carmen Sabatino has been harshly critical of Sheriff Christiansen’s performance. Mr. Sabatino cited the death of an inmate at the hands of sheriff’s deputies, which he labeled a murder. Although the District Attorney’s office ruled the inmate’s death an accident, critics complain that excessive force was used to subdue the now deceased prisoner.
Mr. Sabatino also has noted that the Sheriff once commented that Christiansen would like to have Sabatino held in jail so that the former Mayor could suffer the experience.
An old saying in police circles is if no one complains about the work one is doing, then one is not doing his job. Complaints are a normal part of police work. The question is, will the complaints gain traction and a new Sheriff be elected? Or will the complaints be seen as a normal part of police work, resulting in reelection by cake walk?