As the election for the next Los Angeles sheriff draws closer, Keeping the Good in Our Neighborhood organized the Sheriff’s Roundup Candidates Forum Monday evening in San Dimas.
The event introduced voters to the candidates while allowing them to see where each candidate stood on issues affecting the department and their area.
“At other forums, I see the same people rooting for the same candidate,” Patrick Gomez, a candidate for sheriff, said. “It is nice that this gathered more of the community.”
Six of the seven candidates showed up to explain why they should be the new Los Angeles County sheriff.
The event began at 5:30 p.m., starting out with music and food.
Visitors received pictures, signs, buttons, fliers and pamphlets filled with information on each candidate.
Tensions ran high as each campaign worked rigorously to ensure their candidate was on the mind of the present Los Angeles County voters.
Each candidate promised change in the department and safer environments throughout the county, but few of them were able to describe how they planned to implement these changes.
Voters like Trisha Bowler from Diamond Bar came out to support her candidate.
“My husband, John Bowler, has been retired for 36 years, and we grew up with the Sheriff’s Department,” Bowler said.
Bowler said she wants the next sheriff to be someone who has integrity and honesty.
Outgoing Sheriff Lee Baca’s corrupt office became the what-not-to-do guideline for the candidates.
Gomez referred to Baca’s term as “Baca’s regime,” claiming “there will be no obstruction of justice.”
Candidate Bob Olmsted openly stated that he blew the whistle on corruption and wrongdoing in the Sheriff’s Department by alerting the FBI and Los Angeles Times.
To prove his dedication to fighting corruption, candidate James Hellmold stated he used his experience of being assistant sheriff to implement jail reforms and improve safety after the department came under fire for misconduct in their jails.
Baca was elected in 1998 and was re-elected four times. But he became most famous for the corruption that ran rampant through his time in office.
Baca placed friends on payroll and released jail inmates. His many controversies ranged from favoritism with certain celebrities to abusing inmates.
In the face of public scrutiny, Baca retired in January before his term ended.
“There should be seven candidates, enough said,” Betty Croker, a Claremont resident and organizer of the KGNH event, said of candidate Paul Tanaka’s absence.
“I’ve been to other candidate forums, this one had the best turn out,” Olmsted said.
Crocker said that San Dimas was the perfect place to hold the forum because the city is between many freeways, making it easier for Los Angeles residents to get to the event.
Other candidates include Jim McDonnell, Todd Rogers and Lou Vince.
The vote for the top two candidates will take place June 3, and the final vote will be in November.
Gabriela Krupa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.