As of Tuesday, November 15, 2016
What does last week’s Idaho County Sheriff’s election have to say? Here are some thoughts:
First, it’s a narrow mandate – 52 percent — for Republican incumbent Doug Giddings, but not much different than when he first ran in 2008. We’re talking a 2 percent drop from then, when he ran in a three-way race. He avoided a run in the 2012 general by securing 61 percent of the vote in that year’s primary (So comparable? A matter of debate.)
What’s that 2 percent drop the result of? Take your pick of guesses – concerns with internal policies or actions? Crime rates or how investigations are handled? Who’s the “good ole’ boy” in this race — you’ll likely be as on target as pollsters were for last week’s Clinton-Trump race.
But 52 percent is a mandate, so the question now is whether 52 percent is satisfactory, and that inquiry lies with us all: the 8,282 who voted in the race. If it was an issue important enough to vote against Giddings last week, it’s likely still important today; his supporters need to realize and respect that. All of us need to keep vigilant for the kind of county law enforcement we do, and don’t want; and we need to ask questions, simply starting with, “Why?”
Call the sheriff; you pay his salary so you can bend (not break, bend) his ear for a few.
We’ll kick this loose right here: If transparency is an issue, consider a citizen advisory committee; representatives from throughout the county meeting monthly or quarterly with the sheriff. But this goes two ways: issues are brought to discuss, as well as information on county business is presented for dissemination back into the community. This may be overkill in our situation, but we’ll always be proponents of encouraging better connection and communication between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve (case in point, Grangeville Police Department’s “Coffee with a Cop”).
And speaking of our city cops, the problem now lies with the scorched earth between ICSO and the Grangeville and Cottonwood agencies after October’s endorsement by its officers for Martinez. That ad was effective, impacting voters on both sides of the race to thoughtfully question the issues being raised. But the endorsement was also a tactical nuke, flash-frying not just agency relations but also the public’s trust in its law enforcement agencies’ abilities to work together and cooperate.
So, what’s the solution? Good luck with that, as no amount of quick fix glad-handing “grip and grin” photos will convince anyone a peace has been made. So begins the hard work here, but necessary work as these agencies serve the public trust … and that trust is damaged as a result of this election. What course the repairs take from here needs to be their journey to plan and make. But as out in public and frank as the city-county dissent was, so needs their reconciliation to be as well.