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A new sheriff will be elected this year. Our current sheriff, Rob Giordano, who has done a superb job, is not running for office. The voters will select from three candidates.

My interest in the sheriff’s race stems from the fact that I served as undersheriff of Sonoma County and have an interest in the department and its future. I understand the complexity of the sheriff’s job and the myriad demands placed on this position. It’s one of the most demanding jobs in the county and, as we saw during last year’s fires, a critical job in protecting the public’s safety.

A candidate for the sheriff’s position has to have the right credentials to succeed. The question for voters is simply which of the three candidates is the best match for the position of Sonoma County sheriff?

The sheer size and scope of the Sheriff’s Office demands top flight experience and management skills. With more than 650 employees and a budget of almost $180 million it demands decisive and experienced leadership. The department is divided into highly specialized components; law enforcement in the unincorporated areas and the cities of Windsor and Sonoma, the civil section, jail and detention operations, court security and the coroner unit, just to name a few. So a candidate for sheriff must have the right experience, expertise and executive skills to oversee these highly specialized areas.

All three candidates in this race have impressive backgrounds and have served their communities well. Their credentials are not lacking, but one candidate stands out as a current leader in the department with hands-on experience using the latest technology and best practices in law enforcement.

The best qualified candidate for sheriff is Mark Essick. Here’s why. Essick has more than 20 years of experience with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. He presently holds the position of captain in the Patrol Division. He understands the department and all of its divisions, its strengths and most important, the areas where improvement is needed.

Essick is the only candidate for sheriff with a background not only in law enforcement but also in detention. This is a key consideration when you understand that this division alone has more than 300 employees and the responsibility for not only detention but the appropriate rehabilitation programs.

Essick is a leader in the Sheriff’s Office. The other two candidates have been out of active law enforcement for 10 to 20 years. Both are retirees with no recent full-time experience in law enforcement and none in corrections.

Essick is the only candidate who served as a deputy, a first responder supervisor and a divisional leader within the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. He has served at all levels of the department. His expertise and experience are both contemporary and well documented.

He has worked with law enforcement personnel from all police departments throughout Sonoma County in promoting community safety. It should be noted that Essick is the only candidate who was involved full-time, as patrol commander, during the most catastrophic disaster to strike Sonoma County in its history — the deadly, destructive and devastating wild fires in October. And he is endorsed by our current sheriff, Rob Giordano, whose leadership excelled during the fires.

In closing, Essick has contemporary executive leadership experience. He has the best understanding of the Sheriff’s Office. from the ground up, has a solid knowledge of Sonoma County and Sonoma County government and is the only candidate with recent experience in serving during the fires. He knows and understands the social and human issues confronting our county, and he understands the need to strengthen the relationship between our community and the Sheriff’s Office.

Mark Essick is committed to improvement, not just arbitrary change — and he should be our next Sonoma County sheriff.

Tom Anderson is a former undersheriff for Sonoma County and a former member of the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. His son is Darius Anderson who is managing member of Sonoma Media Investments, LLC, owners of The Press Democrat.

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