Job Description: The top law enforcement official in the county. Oversees and manages more than 400 employees.
Term: Four years
This is, hands-down, the most ludicrous race this election. Incumbent Republican Darren White is running for re-election. Some guy named Jose Edgar Chavez is running as his Democratic opponent. We’re not really sure how Chavez even got into the race, as he seems to be completely disinterested in actually getting elected.
We called Chavez to set up an interview nearly a dozen times. Since he doesn’t have a campaign office or website, we called his house. He never answered, but a variety of other people picked up the phone to tell us on different occasions that a) they think he’s at work but b) don’t know where he works and c) therefore can’t give us a work number where we could reach him. One time we called and the man who answered said he didn’t think Chavez even lived there. Despite the numerous messages we left, he never returned our calls. Other local newspapers seemed to have similar difficulties.
Via the powers of Google, we were able to find out that Chavez is a 26-year-old security guard, as stated in a questionnaire he answered for the Albuquerque Tribune, the only paper we’re aware of that was able to reach him. That’s about all we know.
White, however, is a serious candidate who’s done a fine job as sheriff for the last four years. He’s so devoted to winning this election, he came in for his endorsement interview despite the fact that he’d come down with a bad case of laryngitis. Dismissing the idea of rescheduling for his comfort, he did the whole interview in a whisper. That move earns him some respect.
White has 20 years of law enforcement experience, served in New Mexico and Houston. Before getting into police work, he was in the Army. He was appointed cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety in 1995, where he stayed for four years before later running for sheriff in 2002.
White takes a vigorously pro-enforcement stance when it comes to addressing crime. He thinks the laws are too weak when it comes to violent crimes and wants to toughen sentences. But he’s also focused on drug treatment programs and wants to improve and expand the availability of services. He recognizes that if people are leaving jail addicted to drugs, they’re likely going to end up back in jail. When it comes to prevention, White says he doesn’t have the answers but knows programs need to be re-evaluated. He suggested getting cops or other professionals into schools to teach kids about the dangers of drugs.
White says, if elected, he would work to make most traffic penalties civil offenses instead of criminal offenses—a fantastic idea. Violations such as DWI, reckless driving and road rage would remain criminal, but more minor infractions like speeding and failing to use a turn signal would be handled by collection agencies instead of the courts. With an estimated 70,000 warrants in Bernalillo County—the majority of which are for minor traffic violations—the switch would free up prison cells, the court system and officers’ time. The Sheriff’s Department has started talking to the Legislature about the idea.
In the end, White’s done a decent job as sheriff and deserves to be re-elected. We give him our endorsement.