TRACY - Candidates for Lyon County Sheriff squared off Tuesday night in a forum debate put on in Tracy.
The candidates, current sheriff Mark Mather, Ron McKenzie, and Bruce Hanson, all have more than a decade of experience in police work, but what sets them apart, they say, is their vision for the Sheriff's Department.
McKenzie, a former 15-year sheriff from Murray County, said the focus of the department should be on officer training and public involvement.
Photo by Phillip Bock
Lyon County Sheriff’s candidates Ron McKenzie, Mark Mather and Bruce Hanson take part in a forum Tuesday in Tracy.
"I lead by what I do," he said. "To have good officers you have to train them."
McKenzie focused on community involvement during the forum, noting that for police to be as effective as possible the public needs to be involved and report crimes.
"Until you get the public involved you're not going to solve a lot of issues," McKenzie said.
For Mather, getting the budget under control would be his first priority. As the current sheriff of Lyon County, Mather said he has already made cuts to the budget and was able to give money back to the county in the previous fiscal year.
"I stay within the budget" he said, "Last year I turned back about $3,000 to the county."
Hanson, a deputy in Lyon County with experience in everything from investigations to supervisory roles within the department, said he wants to bring new ideas to the table and bring back trust and integrity to the department.
"I have a good idea of what our department needs," Hanson said. "We have got to bring trust and consistency back to the department."
To do this Hanson said he would get out and talk to citizens more and build a relationship with area communities and local police departments.
"I'm not the type of officer that sits in the office," Hanson said. "I get out into the town and meet with people and greet people."
Mather, a member of the Lions Club and Rotary Club, said he agrees that meeting with the public is important. While sheriff, he said he has built up his relationship with local police chiefs and community members.
"If you're the sheriff than you better be out in the the community doing community activities," Mather said.
All of the candidates acknowledged the need for drug enforcement, but their strategies for tackling the problem differed.
Hanson, whose twin brother was a former K-9 unit officer, said that Lyon County could use a drug dog in the department. While the dog would likely need to be purchased with tax dollars, he said, the increased enforcement would be worth the cost and the dog would eventually pay for itself.
Mather said he favors training officers in drug enforcement over using a drug dog in Lyon County.
"I'm not in favor of using tax payer money to bring a drug dog to Lyon County," Mather said.
McKenzie said that departments must be able to change over time to deal with the mandates and changes in law enforcement. Through communicating with schools and the community and asking what they need the department would be better able to adapt to those needs, he said.
"It's ever-changing," McKenzie said. "You have to be an ever-changing department."