Elected vs. Appointed Sheriff - My Opinion
by Rick Sorrels
If the issue of whether to elect or appoint the Sheriff were the only issue on the ballot, then I would not even waste the 39 cents to mail the ballot.
On February 22nd, 2006, The Peninsula Gateway solicited comment from its readers to gauge public opinion on this issue. To date, not a single response has come in, none in favor of election, none in favor of appointment, none opposed, nothing. The voters couldn’t care less.
I started out believing that it made no difference, whatsoever, whether the Sheriff was elected or appointed, but I searched for an answer anyway. I still believe that it makes no difference in the level of police services or the effectiveness or abilities of the Sheriff.
The only real differences I could find were the negatives. An election process would turn an otherwise dignified Sheriff into a street corner, hat-in-hand beggarman trying to raise campaign money, with all the associated risk of compromise and disrespect. The inevitable heated rhetoric of an election campaign will destroy any possibility of a loosing candidate from returning to work in that same Sheriff’s office. And it takes a lot longer to remove a “bad” Sheriff from an elected office.
Logic tells me to go with an appointed Sheriff, but the voters tend to vote with their emotions and not logic.
If this issue gets to the ballot, then I would expect it to be approved by a narrow margin. I expect 80% of the votes to be determined by a coin flip. Informed, knowledgeable voters: 2 %. People with a grudge against the police: 5%. Those approving something just because it’s on the ballot: 6%. Those denying it just because it’s on the ballot: 6%.
On second thought, the result would probably depend most upon the wording. If the ballot were to read “Shall the Sheriff be elected?”, or “Shall the Sheriff be appointed?”, would each probably prevail simply because it was worded in a positive manner. Major decisions should not be made due to such nuances.
In this case “let the voter decide” is NOT a call to democracy, it’s a call to apathy. The issue should not go to the voters unless the Commissioners determine that there is a definite need for a change. It’s an insult to the “informed” voters to force a revote on something that they already voted and decided in 1980.
That is my 2 cents worth, which will certainly not buy a cup of coffee in today’s economy.
Rick Sorrels 4 Mar 2006