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Sonoma County sheriff candidate Eddie Engram presents to Santa Rosa group

Sonoma County Assistant Sheriff Eddie Engram, who is one of four candidates campaigning for the office of sheriff, spoke over Zoom Monday evening to a Santa Rosa neighborhood group.

The virtual event, which was hosted by the South Park Coalition, took place as a result of a previous candidates’ forum held last month by the same group that did not include Engram. It did, however, include the three other candidates in the sheriff’s race.

Some people who watched the Jan. 25 forum questioned why Engram was not present and called the neighborhood group’s decision to hold a forum without him unfair. One of the forum’s organizers, at the time, said the other three candidates had asked to speak to the group.

Monday’s event was organized after Engram contacted the group in order to speak to its members.

During his 15-minute presentation, the assistant sheriff emphasized his experience running the county jail and managing the 2019 Kincaid fire.

He also told the audience of about 40 people that he would like to see a “more diverse Sheriff’s Office.” During his tenure, he said, there have never been more than five Black deputies, out of a staff of over 220, at a single time.

Attendees’ questions probed his perspective on the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach, which he said he hoped to have a “cooperative relationship” with, and his agency’s history of use of force.

“We’re not the same agency with the same policies that we were in 2013. Many things have changed in regards to the way we use force,” Engram answered.

Annette Arnold, one of the South Park organizers, said the group organized the follow-up event to “give neighbors an opportunity to hear all the candidates.”

“I think we have a lot of good candidates to choose from,” Arnold said.

You can reach Staff Writer Emily Wilder at 707-521-5337 or emily.wilder@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @vv1lder.

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