The Sheriff's Office oversees the county jail, provides security and other services in the courts, and is responsible for civil enforcement.
Stan Barry, a Democrat, was elected to the sheriff's office four years ago. The number of employees is approximately the same, 550, while the number of inmates has increase by more than 50 percent, to more than 1,300 from 850. Barry has run an efficient organization and won the endorsement of the two deputy organizations. Barry demonstrates a literate grasp of the challenges of his office (see questionnaire), working to raise employee morale and get the job done with the available resources.
Questions raised by Jim Vickery, Barry's challenger, over contributions from Sheriff office employees are valid concerns, but do not reflect on Barry as individual. County officials must find a way to reevaluate standards for campaign contributions overall, but that will happen after the election.
Of greater concern is overcrowding at the county jail, now holding about twice its capacity by design, and a cut in programs for inmates. (See story, page 8) This is a situation which requires repair before it becomes an emergency with disastrous consequences. Barry has a new facility much of which is unused while inmates are literally doubled up. He should find a way to fully utilize the new jail building.