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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on June 6th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 14 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 14

Brown blows by challengers

By SPENCER COLE

Sheriff Bill Brown will remain at the top of Santa Barbara County’s Sheriff’s Office following a decisive victory in the June 5 primary.

As of the Sun’s press time, the incumbent Brown had captured at least 50 percent of total votes, enough to prevent a second contest between him and Lt. Brian Olmstead in the November general election.


RUNAWAY VOTE
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown won’t face a challenger in the November general election after capturing more than 50 percent of the vote in the June 5 primary. Pictured: Brown at his June election night party in Santa Barbara.
PHOTO BY SPENCER COLE

Olmstead, who announced his candidacy three months before the primary, pulled in more than 30 percent of total ballots cast but failed to pry enough votes away from Brown to force a runoff in the fall. He found some of his potential support syphoned away by Lt. Eddie Hsueh, who despite running a campaign that spent and raised less than a combined $10,000, managed to snag 14 percent of the vote.

Olmstead ran a more effective political machine in terms of finances than Hsueh, raising around $124,000 and spending nearly all of it on TV, radio, and print ads in an attempt to oust Brown, who’s held the office for almost 12 years. Sheriff Brown outraised and outspent his two opponents by wide margins throughout the campaign. He ultimately raised more than a quarter million dollars to retain his position and spent at least $170,000 on a combination of ads and political consulting firms.

At his election party in Santa Barbara on June 5, Brown told the Sun the night’s results were a reflection of his past four years as sheriff.

“I don’t believe anything’s happened between the last election and now that would have caused voters to massively change their minds,” he said, adding he was proud for receiving bipartisan support ranging from the local level to Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California). Those kind of endorsements are humbling, he added, but are also a reflection of the job.

“This is a nonpartisan position,” he said. “I protect everybody in this community. It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is, your religious beliefs, your sexual orientation, or immigration status—none of that matters. We protect everybody here and we’re proud to do that, and I think most people get that.”

During the campaign, Brown’s opponents questioned his and the Sheriff Office’s relationship with the county Board of Supervisors. Olmstead even went as far to blame the staffing shortages on Brown’s mandatory overtime policy at the Santa Barbara County Jail and inability to get funding from the board to keep positions and their wages competitive. The county’s Deputy Sheriff’s Association eventually endorsed Olmstead as a rebuke to Brown’s practices.

The Sheriff’s Office has lost 90 positions since 2007 due to budget cuts, and Brown said the work those positions did “hasn’t gone away.” Answering the criticism on election night, Brown pointed to his support from 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino and said the supervisors and his office would need to work together to solve their myriad financial issues, including finishing the North County jail, limiting deputy attrition, and reducing recidivism in the inmate population.

“We haven’t always seen eye to eye on things, but the reality is that we are all going to have to work together to try to address some of these issues,” he added. “The county has some tremendous financial issues and problems—and I recognize that—but on the same token, public safety is the most important job of government. We have to make sure we are supporting our people.”

That also means repairing any frayed relationships with his deputies and members of their association. Brown said the office would need to work to make sure its levels of compensation are fair and market driven.

“We have to recognize we live in a county that’s high cost of living, and it’s hard for entry-level people coming in to be able to buy a house and make a living and put a root down here,” he explained. “We’re going to have to work hand-in-hand with the deputies and the union to try to see what can we do collectively to try to make things more manageable for people and better for people … because ours are exhausted.”




Weekly Poll
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