Sheriff’s citizens committee seeks more members

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The Sheriff’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) marked its first full year in operation Nov. 2 by voting in a new board chair and vice chair, as well as hashing out its areas of coverage throughout Jefferson County.

A trio of potential board members – John Hamilton, John Boyce and Christopher Miller – sat in as Sheriff Dave Stanko thanked outgoing CAC chair Anna Phillips, who was part of the committee beginning before its official ratification Sept. 26, 2016.

“We’re a year old,” Stanko said. “We’re still getting our sea legs under us.”

In her resignation letter, Phillips not only noted her increased load of responsibilities, but also noted the presence of capable fellow committee members who could act in her stead relatively seamlessly.

Former vice chair John Ammeter, who was unanimously approved by the committee as its new chair, had helped filter applications for its membership at the outset of the organization. Fellow committee member John Langdon was voted in as the new vice chair.

While Stanko initially appointed the chair and vice chair, for terms not to exceed two years, he pointed out that the committee’s by-laws prevented him from doing the same with their successors, who need to be voted in by fellow committee members.

With as many as 15 committee members allowed by the CAC bylaws, Stanko acknowledged the need to fill some open positions, to ensure that as many areas of the county as possible are represented.

“The purpose of this committee was, and is, to be an apolitical organization, including members of all parties and sections of the county, to bring forth issues that affect their communities, for the sheriff’s attention,” Stanko said. “Port Hadlock and Port Ludlow are two very large communities.”

PETITION FOR DEPUTIES

To that end, committee members recently collected signatures from residents who would support hiring additional deputies for the sheriff’s office. Committee member Dick Schulte, who helped coordinate the collection efforts, described them as part of a “passive petition,” with signature sheets often posted in relatively public spaces, such as clubhouses and other meeting areas.

“If we went knocking on doors, I figured we’d piss people off,” Schulte said.

The “passive petition” nonetheless collected 776 signatures in support of more deputies.

Committee member Ruth Whitney deemed the public response “universally favorable,” even going so far as to deem it “a mandate.”

“Nobody objected,” Schulte concurred. “Everyone thought it was a good idea.”

Langdon acknowledged that some respondents asked how the additional deputies would be paid for, theorizing that “Proposition 1 was on their minds.” Hamilton echoed this concern, and Stanko even agreed with him that funds for new deputies are limited due to the percentage of the budget that’s automatically blocked out, plus the sparse options available to the county for raising more revenue.

“My goal would be to have four deputies at a time out on patrol throughout the county,” Stanko said. “We’re actually able to do that maybe five to six days a month.”

One of the positions Stanko is looking to fill is the animal control officer, since the former animal control officer was moved into a corrections position at the Jefferson County Jail. He reported that six candidates for animal control officer have oral boards coming up, while also touting the new deputy serving in the west end of the county.

“We still need more people,” Stanko said, referring both to the sheriff’s deputies and to the committee members.

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