Nevada County residents get the opportunity this year to elect the first new sheriff in 20 years, making it easily the most important office on the June ballot.
The sheriff’s office is responsible for police services in the unincorporated areas of Nevada County–that’s most of our sparsely populated county–and will be the main enforcer of the marijuana cultivation ordinance the Board of Supervisors is currently considering, an issue that has roiled the area for several years.
Maybe we’re not close enough to election day yet, but people seem to have a ho-hum attitude toward the race to succeed Sheriff Keith Royal. At lease they did until the issue of who gets to run the dog pound surfaced.
The sheriff’s office is responsible for animal control operations in the county, work that has been contracted out to Sammie’s Friends since 2010. That contract expires June 30, and the sheriff’s office announced the new contract will go to the Placer County Animal Services Division.
People are not happy with the idea of having to drive to Auburn to adopt a dog or cat, and others are upset with Placer County’s kill policy when it comes to distressed animals. (Sammie’s Friends home on McCourtney Road would act as an intake spot, and possibly handle some adoptions in the future.)
The decision was made after a committee of anonymous county employees reviewed the bids from Sammie’s Friends and Placer County, interviewed the representatives, and then scored the two applicants. Placer County offered to take over the operation for almost $100,000 less that Sammie’s bid.
Now the sheriff has to negotiate a contract with Placer County and get it approved by the Board of Supervisors. That may not be easy. Supervisor Ed Scofield, no slouch when it comes to spending as little money as possible, is a “strong supporter” of Sammie’s Friends who claims he was “blind-sided” by the contract award process. One can presume any contract brought to the board will receive close scrutiny.
Local social media has erupted over the issue–at least one regular on Nevada County Peeps has demanded that each candidate for sheriff state his or her position on the issue–and each candidate has a statement on Facebook.
Each of the candidates–Capt. Shannan Moon and Lt. Bill Smethers of the sheriff’s office, and former Grass Valley police chief John Foster–have issued statements that generally back Sammie’s Friends.
A rally in support of Sammie’s Friends will be held April 25 at the Foothill Events Center, and I wouldn’t be surprised if all three candidates are there. Finally, an issue to get the voters interested in the race.