Debate within the debate. OC sheriff Hutchens candidate statement

This afternoon I attended the informal debate between the three candidates for OC sheriff held at the Casta Del Sol recreation center in Mission Viejo.  They are Bill Hunt, Anaheim Deputy Police Chief Craig Hunter and OC Sheriff Sandra Hutchens.

The standing room only event, co-hosted by the Casta Republican Club and the Leadership Alliance, was attended by over 120 residents, friends and campaign staff. In addition to the sheriff candidates, Harry Sidhu, 4th District BOS candidate, was in the house. For the record. This event was held in the Fifth District City of Mission Viejo currently represented by Pat Bates. Former Mission Viejo Mayor Gail Reavis and current council member Cathy Schlicht were also present.

In entering the Vista Room I spotted several Hunt supporters wearing white T-shirts with green and yellow wording Bill Hunt for Sheriff.

I am taking the liberty of breaking up this report into two parts. The first will be a follow up investigating an Orange Juice post that has yet to be covered by the OC Register.

Ref. Sandra Hutchens misinformation ordered removed from ballot statement  Admin posted this on March 26th, 2010

After the candidates opening presentations, and panel member questions, the moderator opened the microphone for members of the audience for Q&A. I was the first attendee in line, and, after introducing myself by name, said I am a blogger for the Orange Juice. One of the things that we get criticized for is not verifying facts that we post.

My question for Sheriff Hutchens.

“Somebody, one of our administrators, reported yesterday, that a court requested, and you have removed wording, that you have reduced your administrative staff by 47%. Can you tell us why that wording was removed from your ballot statement? Thank you.”

Sheriff Hutchens responded. “Yea, as one of the candidates, I don’t let them identify themselves, challenged my ballot statement when I said I reduced my command staff by 47%. Actually it’s 42%, but I said, you know what, just take it off. I don’t need to go to court over that. Its not a big deal. I think 40% of a command staff doesn’t matter if its 42 or 47. So I did take that off. I guess my opponents don’t want the public to know that I did that because its a bold thing to do when your having to make some very difficult choices. And I did make them–when I had to. So thank you.”

Fast forward to the closing remarks where Anaheim Deputy Police Chief Hunter, who went first, said:

“Its not 42% chopped from the top. There’s two more people in the command staff than there were from the day she took office. And that’s why she settled to take that out of her ballot statement. Because she’s been going around the County telling people that, you know, she’s a great fiscal conservative. Because that’s what people want to hear. In fact, that’s not the case, at least in this situation.”

Sheriff Hutchens, who spoke last thanked the attendees “for having an interest in the race and being here asking some excellent questions. She goes on saying that “I have made/chose cuts in the command staff. And it’s a shame that you’re both, both of you are trying to mislead you on that. Because we’re all law enforcement officers so we shouldn’t mislead.

The fact that I had 15 lieutenants and captains, total, agree to take on a higher responsibility but there is only one person getting paid as an assistant sheriff. The rest are not being paid. They’re getting paid at the rank below what they’re holding today. Because they believe in what we are doing in the department. This department is not the same department when I entered 21 months ago. We have made substantial changes. Changes that needed to be made. Put accountability systems in place, put risk management systems in place, it’s better and more efficient and effective at how we are dealing with law enforcement issues. We can’t just cost ourselves out of a job. You can’t continue to pay high costs for what we do. It is an expensive part of government, but we can get better.”

Note: Part 2 of this two hour exchange will cover the candidates commentary, much of which related to CCW’s and immigration.

About Larry Gilbert