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Polk County Sheriff Candidates

Polk County Sheriff's Office


Polk County Sheriff's Office



POLK COUNTY — Both candidates for Polk County sheriff knew early in their lives they wanted to serve communities as law enforcement officers.

Sheriff Mark Garton, appointed to the office in December 2015, following the retirement of former sheriff Bob Wolfe, knew in high school after serving as a cadet for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

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Whitlow

Polk County Sheriff

NAME: Todd Whitlow

AGE: 50.

CURRENT EMPLOYMENT (FOR HOW LONG): 15+ years, hired full time August 2001.

EDUCATION: Graduate Dallas High School; Graduate Western Oregon State College Bachelor of Science Law Enforcement.

PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT: Volunteer Firefighter Sheridan Fire District 2000-2007.

CAMPAIGN PHONE NUMBER: 503-931-2079.

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.toddwhitlowfo...

HOW LONG HAVE YOU RESIDED IN THE AREA YOU WILL REPRESENT: 50 years.

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE? Polk County citizens deserve to have a Sheriff who understands the importance of leadership in the community and within the organization, and what servant leadership means to the citizens, and employees of the Sheriff’s Office. I have a long history of quality leadership, management, communication, and partnership building skills.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SINGLE ISSUE FACING THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE? HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS IT IF ELECTED? The passage of the the Public Safety Levy temporarily addresses the financial short falls of the Sheriff’s Office. The previous staff layoffs, lack of consistent patrol coverage, quality customer service to the citizens, strained the public’s trust and confidence in the Sheriff’s Office. Regaining the trust of the citizens, proving our worthiness in every aspect of every task performed by Sheriff’s Office staff has to be the number one goal of everyone. Stressing this to all staff, and ensuring we are treating the citizens the way we would want our families to be treated will rebuild the trust and relationships.

THE LAW ENFORCEMENT LEVY IS PROVIDING FOR A FULLY STAFFED OFFICE NOW. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR EITHER REPLACING THAT FUNDING WITH ANOTHER SOURCE OR APPEALING TO VOTERS TO APPROVE IT AGAIN?

I have met with the county administrator and currently there is no known source of funding that will replace the approximate $2.3 million per year being provided by the Public Safety Levy. What can be done is to visit every aspect and line item of the Sheriff’s Office budget and be fiscally responsible, and work to function at or near a zero-based budget. This ensures thought is put into every aspect of operations and personnel. It requires better documentation, communication and helps to identify wastefulness, or parts of operations that require a closer look to confirm their effectiveness, and value to the overall mission of the Sheriff’s Office. It also provides a more accurate number for budgeting and marketing for a potential future operating levy.

By working to do the above, and appealing to the citizens by working relentlessly to rebuild the trust and relationship by providing high quality customer service, and by being transparent in all that we do ensures to the public we are doing our best to earn their trust, current and future support.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WISH TO NOTE ABOUT THE POSITION YOU ARE SEEKING?

The position of Sheriff is one of many responsibilities. You are a personnel manager, finance manager, operations manager, policy maker, leader, communicator, motivator and mentor to both the citizens and staff. My career thus far has been a progressive track with increasing responsibilities, program management, and community involvement. I have the experience of working with county and city governments to improve livability and address community concerns in widely diverse demographics. I am a listener who has the ability to communicate and work towards a goal with success. I understand the importance of community trust and doing what you say you will do and following up with folks to make sure their needs and concerns are addressed.

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Garton

Polk County Sheriff

NAME: Mark Garton

AGE: 37.

CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: Polk County Sheriff – With Polk County since August 1997 to present.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Dallas High School in 1997. Received Associates of Applied Science in Criminal Justice in June 2008.

PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Polk County 1997- present

CAMPAIGN PHONE NUMBER: 503-877-6767

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.markgarton.com

HOW LONG HAVE YOU RESIDED IN THE AREA YOU WILL REPRESENT: 37 years

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE? I want people to have a safe place to live and to raise a family. I also want to show the people that their Sheriff’s Office is here to serve them and not the other way around. I enjoy serving the people and that is all I want to do.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SINGLE ISSUE FACING THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE? HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS IT IF ELECTED? The biggest issue we’re facing is that the levy is only for 5 years. To address this, I must be able to show the tax payer their return on their investment after passing the levy. I must also follow through with promises that were made during the levy. I’ve been able to fulfill most of the promises by hiring all the positions outlined in the levy: I restored 24 hour patrols, I helped restore POINT and we established a computer forensics lab to help all the police agencies. I will also work with stakeholders to look for long term funding.

THE LAW ENFORCEMENT LEVY IS PROVIDING FOR A FULLY STAFFED OFFICE NOW. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR EITHER REPLACING THAT FUNDING WITH ANOTHER SOURCE OR APPEALING TO VOTERS TO APPROVE IT AGAIN?

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any other funding source becoming available. However, I promise to continually look for ways to reduce costs which could lower the overall assessed tax. For the first two budget years since the levy passed the county has kept their promise to reduce the levied amount to 30.8 cents and 32.2 cents per $1,000 respectively. Just because there is additional money that could be levied, doesn’t mean that we spend it. I believe in accountability and being fiscally responsible.

For the levy to be approved again, we must continually earn the support of Polk County voters everyday throughout the levy period. I must ensure that we follow through with the promises that were made, which we have thus far. First, we began hiring for all the positions that were of the included in the levy. In January 2016 we doubled our patrol hours to 20 hours. Then, in June 2016, we had enough employees who had completed all their training and we were able to restore 24 hour patrols. Also, in July 2016 I helped to restore the Polk County Inter Agency Narcotics Team (POINT). We’ve also restored our court security position as it had been vacant due to previous budget reductions. We also created a computer forensic lab, which is available to every police agency in Polk County. In the past we have contracted this service out to another Sheriff’s Office, but now we are able to complete these tasks in house, which is more efficient. During the levy we also promised to restore our K9 program and while that isn’t completed yet, we are still moving in that direction.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WISH TO NOTE ABOUT THE POSITION YOU ARE SEEKING?

Public trust is very important to me and I don’t take that for granted. As your Sheriff and chief law enforcement officer I will stand up for you and your rights. I really take my oath of office very seriously.

After taking office, I created a vision statement for the Sheriff’s Office and it reads, “The Polk County Sheriff’s Office provides sustainable quality programs and services that focus on the safety and security of our schools, homes, businesses and highways which contribute to the quality of life for every segment of our community.” All of the decisions that are made at the Sheriff’s Office must pass the muster of this vision statement.

I will hold myself accountable to the people, because I know that I work for you. I take promises that are made, especially by public officials, very seriously, because if those officials don’t follow through on their promises, it erodes the public’s trust and to me, that is not acceptable. I believe that a person is nothing without their integrity or honor and I take that to heart every day.

Since becoming Sheriff, we have taken a different approach to the programs and services we offer inside the jail then we have in the past. We are expanding our programs to include AA/NA for both men and women. We also have partnered with Goodwill Job Connect to work with inmates who are near their release to prepare them and potentially find a job for them upon release. All of these programs are focused to help reduce our recidivism rate.

Challenger Todd Whitlow originally went to college to become a teacher and coach, but switched to law enforcement after taking a few law enforcement classes at Western Oregon University.

Both have spent their entire careers with one agency, Garton with Polk County and Whitlow with the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office.

On Nov. 8, voters in Polk County will decide which man will lead the office for the next four years.

Garton has overseen the bulk of the hiring and adding programs after voters approved a five-year public safety operational levy in May 2015.

His first priorities were to keep the promise to re-establish 24-hour patrol and the county’s multi-agency narcotics team, which happened this summer.

More recently, he’s initiated a program that has a deputy working in schools. Not a school resource officer, but a deputy that will visit schools through an outreach program.

“We are going to have those interactions with kids that we haven’t ever had before,” he said.

In the jail, the county now has mental health professional working with inmates and a partnership with Goodwill to coach those about to be released on resume building and job-seeking skills.

“I know it’s not going to happen overnight, but if we can get inmates who are going to be released some skills that would help them later on, that’s our goal,” he said. “Our goal is to not have people come back to our jail.”

Garton, 37, said he wants to continue building on what has been achieved since his appointment and believes it is his job to not only fulfill his oath to uphold the constitutions of the country and state, but to understand and meet the needs of the communities he serves.

He said his responsibility is to seek out that information in a number of formats, such as attending city council and community meetings and taking the advice of his recently formed Sheriff’s Advisory Committee.

“If I don’t go out and ask questions of people, or people (don’t) have access to me to give me advise, then I won’t know what service to deliver,” Garton said.

Whitlow, a patrol sergeant, has worked for the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office for 16 years, first as a reserve and then full-time starting in 2001.

Whitlow, 50, currently oversees patrols in the four cities that contract with Yamhill County for police service: Sheridan, Willamina, Lafayette and Dayton. He leads a team of 10 deputies.

He said wants to use the skills he’s developed in that role and as a detective for the benefit of Polk County.

“I have good leadership skills,” he said. “It would be a good challenge to come down here and spend a couple of terms and be comfortable here and get everybody going and leave a little bit of a legacy behind.”

He sees the role of sheriff as that of a “servant leader” that is responsive to the different needs of communities within the office’s jurisdiction.

“We are here to serve everybody else, and it’s not about us,” he said. “It’s not about cop egos. It’s about the people.”

Of his priorities, Whitlow said establishing or strengthening partnerships with neighboring agencies is key, including all the city police departments in the county. He said communities are better served when agencies have strong working relationships because issues tend to bleed over jurisdictional lines.

“Customer service is kind of a broad topic, but it comes down to relationships, partnerships, taking ones that have been strained and making them better,” he said. “Taking ones that didn’t exist and creating them, making them the best they can be.”

Another component of his leadership strategy is taking care of his employees and listening to their suggestions and opinions about how to better serve citizens.

“Without them, the sheriff’s office is not going to function,” he said.

Garton said he decided to seek the sheriff’s position partly with his children’s future in mind.

He wanted to make sure they had the same opportunities he did.

“And I want the community they grow up in to be good,” he said. “I want to leave it better than I found it.”

Whitlow said the first priority of a sheriff should be making sure the public’s needs are met.

“Making sure everybody under his command is providing the best service they can to the citizens of the community, because we work for them,” he said. “It truly is about customer service.”



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