KUNM

Candidates For Bernalillo County Sheriff Face Off

Oct 3, 2014

D- Manuel Gonzalez and R- James Scott Baird both have strong backgrounds in law enforcement.
Credit Rita Daniels

On Thursday candidates for Bernalillo County Sheriff faced off in a public forum hosted by the non-partisan League of Women Voters of Central New Mexico.

The rules of the evening were laid out to the 40 or so members of the audience. No applauding, no booing. They were told it wasn't a debate and to be sure to frame questions in such a way that both candidates could answer.

The 20 questions for the next "conservator of the peace," as the sheriff is called, ranged from whether they want to militarize the department - both said no - to requiring officers to wear lapel cameras - both said no to that, too.  Their plans for the department were actually quite similar.

Democrat Manuel Gonzalez said when it comes to interacting with people with mental illnesses, he'd ensure that the department would work closely with health care professionals who serve that demographic so that unnecessary conflict could be avoided.

"We need to do a better job in being more involved in interacting with the people that take care of those people," Gonzalez said. "That way we can mitigate the violence, mitigate the excessive force, mitigate all the excessive shootings and all the different issues that we're dealing with in our community."

Talking about the same issue, Republican James Scott Baird said he favors more specialized training across the board.

"So part of my plan once I'm the sheriff," Baird said, "is to increase the amount of Critical Incident Training we receive.  We're going to continue to do the things we've been doing but we're just going to do more."

At the end things got heated as the candidates criticized each other over past behavior.

The successful candidate for Bernalillo County Sheriff will hold the office for four years, taking home an annual salary of around $70,000.

The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, October 7th.