For sheriff, Beidler rises above capable field

Three well-qualified candidates are vying in the Aug. 21 primary to replace Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart, who can’t run again because of term limits. The top two will advance to the Nov. 6 general election.

Of the three, Sheriff’s Lt. Rob Beidler offers the clearest plan for protecting citizens, doing it more efficiently and improving morale among deputies and support staff. He also has the energy, vision, intelligence, experience and leadership qualities the sheriff’s office needs as it faces the serious law-enforcement challenges of a rapidly growing county.

We believe he would make an excellent sheriff, and recommend voters elect him.

That’s not to say we find great fault with either of his opponents, state Rep. John Lovick or sheriff’s Bureau Chief Tom Greene. Both bring strong law enforcement resumes and leadership experience to the race. But Beidler offers a more complete set of skills and talents.

Beidler, 40, has been with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office since 1993, moving up through the ranks with distinction. He holds a business degree with an emphasis in human resources, and his management skills have been recognized and rewarded with steadily increasing leadership responsibilities.

His aggressive approach to fighting crime focuses as much on prevention as catching criminals. He advocates creating full-time civilian positions within the agency to work with neighborhoods on Block Watch activities and with businesses on how to protect their property.

Refreshingly, his first solution to the agency’s staffing challenges isn’t simply to ask for more deputies. First, he says, the sheriff’s office must show that it’s using existing staff as efficiently as possible. Only then will it be in a position to make a sound case for more deputies and support personnel. He would start by making greater use of sheriff’s cadets or noncommissioned staff to handle nonemergency calls, which he said amount to about 37 percent of all calls.

Lovick, 56, is a dedicated and talented public servant with 31 years experience in the Washington State Patrol. His campaign is focused on building partnerships with communities and other agencies to improve public safety. He also touts his political experience, saying it would make him an effective advocate for the agency in dealing with the executive’s office and County Council. If voters elect him, they’ll gain a capable sheriff, but lose an effective legislator in Olympia.

Greene, 56, has shown himself to be a competent administrator, and has worked with the executive’s office and council in developing the agency’s budget. He proposes pegging the sheriff’s budget and, in turn, budgets for the prosecutor and jail, to the growth in 911 calls to ensure stable funding and adequate staffing levels. He stops short, though, of identifying a source for the extra revenue that would inevitably be required.

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