Although my weekly column is aptly titled “From the Left,” this one is basically nonpartisan because of the subject of my article. It’s the candidates’ race for Washoe County Sheriff.
That role, for obvious reasons, should be nonpartisan so all citizens, regardless of their affiliations, ideally receive fair and equal treatment. Just like a judge, a sheriff should approach all situations from a position of neutrality.
So, in that spirit, I have approached my selection of the best candidate in the same manner. After careful consideration, I have decided that Heidi Howe, who’s overtly nonpartisan, is our best choice for Washoe County Sheriff.
First of all, who your Sheriff is matters greatly.
Here’s why: With over 750 employees and an annual budget of $115 million , the role of Sheriff is rather like a CEO. Proven leadership skills emanating from that crucial position ensure responsible use of our precious tax dollars and a well run, crucial community service operation.
As with every large organization, good behavior and proper business practices always begin at the top. As the boss does, so do the employees. A sheriff who operates with integrity, compassion and kindness will ensure that similar values will permeate the entire organization, ultimately benefiting our entire community.
The Sheriff’s Department oversees and manages our county jail. At any given time, hundreds of inmates may inhabit the facility. Whatever their alleged infractions, these individuals are human beings and deserve to be treated accordingly.
Mental health issues are often a factor, as well as the ever-worsening opioid crisis affecting so many Americans today. Proper training and awareness among deputies and all other personnel are key to handling these people sensitively, fairly and effectively. As with all other dealings that present to the entire department, this behavior and the prevailing attitudes begin with the Sheriff we elect.
Imagine your own interaction with a representative of the Sheriff’s department. Or a member of your family dealing with one. Having a leader at the head of the organization who feels strongly that the entire department should behave as community guardians, as opposed to warriors, will lead to pleasant, civil experiences and a force for good.
There’s certainly a time and a place when enforcement methods are required, but all department interactions with the community should be tempered with reason, respect and humanity.
Considering all these factors and having a look at the Websites and a public debate featuring the few candidates running for this important Washoe County position, I’ve concluded that Heidi Howe is our best choice.
She has almost 30 years of experience in local law enforcement (three with RPD and 26 with the Washoe County Sheriff Department) and rose to the rank of Captain. She has demonstrated a level head and a reasonable, kind-hearted approach to the issues and factors listed above.
Having the right person as Sheriff will make our community a better, safer and more harmonious place to live.
Heidi Howe has my vote.
CORRECTION: Howe’s years of service in law enforcement was corrected from 30 to nearly 30.
Dave Mulligan is a local Reno resident of over 25 years. He is a published author (Mulligan’s Wake), television producer and a left-leaning political activist. He lives happily on the Truckee River and is the married father of three (his most important role, according to Dave).