BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Democratic candidate for Los Alamos County Sheriff Joe Granville believes that the indivisibility of the nation as cited in the Pledge of Allegiance is being severely tested. Speaking at Saturday’s American Legion candidates forum, he said we live in a nation of red and blue states and that trickles down to the lower levels.
“Those on the losing end of the election cycle live in apprehension of the winners who often declare a mandate as a result of the election no matter what the margin of victory is,” he said. “I think locally and nationally we watch as capricious swings of the political pendulum from one end to the other and if you are on the winning end you feel pretty good about things and if you’re on the losing end, you don’t feel so well about it.”
Granville said the reason he brings this up is because some would suggest that the Los Alamos County Sheriff should be overseeing the Los Alamos Police Department.
“There’s argument that this would somehow establish some kind of accountability albeit it that every four years we revisit that decision of sheriff. I believe that this isn’t such a good path to travel down because I think that there are some things in our community – our medical services, our fire department and our law enforcement that should be completely free of political influence,” he said.
Granville said he got into this election in part in response to the “litigation fatigue” that the community has been experiencing.
“I make no comment on the particular litigation because I believe that everybody feels passionately enough to pursue their point of view. I know Greg White and I have had some conversations. He was the first one to reach out to me after I declared my intention to become a candidate, so I know his intentions are good,” he said. “I just don’t think that having a political appointee as the head of our police department inspires a sense of safety and well-being that comes with a consistency of expectations that we have already with our fire department, our emergency services and our police department.”
Granville proposed that the next sheriff look at some of the duties that were declared customary duties of the sheriff to see if there are opportunities where it can clearly define what the sheriff does “without this continual overlap into what the police department does”.
“I think we have great opportunities to take care of some of the duties – maintaining the sex offender registry, serving notices on behalf of the court, things like that – but I think we also have another opportunity to look at other challenges within the community and then develop through the sheriff’s department programs that can address issues whether it’s kids worrying how to safely navigate in their community” he said.
Granville said he thinks that sustained presence of the sheriff’s department in whatever areas are deemed necessary in the community is a great way to build the relationship between law enforcement, the sheriff’s office and the community while addressing specific issues.
While responding to a question, Granville said he did not see a need for major overhaul of anything.
“The reason we love living in this community is because we are tweaking things to make things safer based on data,” he said.
Asked if he was the candidate who wanted to eliminate the sheriff’s office, Granville responded that he has not heard of anyone that wanted to eliminate the job of sheriff. He said he would not even comment on that issue as it is irrelevant because Judge Francis Mathew has made his decision and “the sheriff’s office is going to be here”.
“What I think we have is the perfect opportunity to start a collaborative effort between the police department, the County Council and our citizen stakeholders and really craft what it is that’s going to make up the sheriff’s department. Something that’s clearly definable so that from election to election cycle people can say, ‘bike safety is my issue and this is what I want to do and these are the resources that we’ll need’,” he said.
Granville noted that he has been on the board of directors for Los Alamos Family Council and that mental health and substance abuse issues are important to him.
“These issues are what distinguish the candidates from each other and give them an opportunity to pursue the things as an elected official that could address community needs and do it in a focused way,” he said.
Granville said he believes all four candidates for sheriff have different visions for what the office will be.
“I think in the end what’s going to lead to success is our ability to reach out to the whole community and ask ourselves what it is that’s important to us and how can we craft clearly defined duties for this office so that every election cycle people know what they’re voting for sheriff,” he said. “We need to look at what Judge Mathew said and we need to look at our community and realize we have opportunities across political lines or across ideological lines and do our best for our community.”