Sheriff’s Capt. Shannan Moon earlier this week joined former Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster in a historic bid to succeed Keith Royal as sheriff of Nevada County.
Now all we need is Royal’s preferred successor to announce his candidacy.
When Foster announced in December he was entering the race to succeed Royal, who will retire after 20 years in office, the sheriff said he’ll support a different candidate to replace him. Since he hasn’t endorsed Moon, we have to assume Royal’s candidate will declare in the future if he hasn’t decided to back-out.
Anybody endorsed by Royal would attract the support of the law-and-order types in the county, particularly those residents who are bitterly opposed to the cultivation and sale of marijuana.
Foster and Moon have expressed a willingness to accept the will of the people and live with pot, something Royal’s supporters don’t want to hear. Moon is promoting the concept of a more modern and transparent sheriff’s office, and even wants to start using body cameras, something Royal has already rejected. This is not music to the ears of law-and-order types.
Moon points to her experience running the jail, an operation that has had its problems in the recent past. The county was sued recently over the death of inmate Joshua Hightower, alleging jail personnel didn’t do enough to ensure his safety or properly investigate his death. The suit claims drugs were allowed into the jail.
Then there was the ruling of the state Court of Appeals in 2015, upholding a claim that the sheriff’s office violated the constitutional rights of inmates by severely restricting their access to counsel. “The jail restriction is an exaggerated response ” to security concerns, the court ruled.
Moon is a lesbian, something she doesn’t attempt to hide. While this doesn’t affect her ability to do the job (heck, she’s been a deputy for 27 years), we know it will influence the decision of some voters. The LGBTQ community will largely support her, but we also know there are social conservatives in the community who will vote against her precisely because she is a lesbian.
Moon and Foster represent a break from the past, unless Royal’s candidate surfaces. Then we can have a real debate about the future of law enforcement in this county.
MEDIA SPOTLIGHT: The local media pretty much ignored Moon’s sexual orientation, letting people figure it out after reading the following sentence from her press release: “She lives in Grass Valley with her wife Amy and three daughters.”
But you can bet the media outside Nevada County won’t be so circumspect when the campaign season heats up next year. A lesbian seeking to become a sheriff in the nation’s most populous state will be big news in California’s major media, and eventually a national story. It will be interesting to see how the locals react to the coverage we’re going to get.