The Bulletin endorses Nelson for Sheriff.

From The Bulletin comes this guest editorial.

Editorial: Re-elect Shane Nelson as Deschutes County Sheriff

Bulletin Editorial Board Oct 4, 2020 Updated 1 hr ago

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office needs to continue to improve. Who is the best person to lead it? Voters have two choices: Sheriff Shane Nelson and challenger Scott Schaier, a Bend Police officer. We urge you to reelect Nelson.

Schaier has raised important questions about Nelson’s leadership. Has he done enough to establish a wellness program for deputies and improve morale? Is there enough of a vision to move the office forward? Is it time for someone from outside the department to come in with fresh eyes and new ideas?

Editorials we have written in the past have specifically criticized some actions of Sheriff Nelson. For instance, we believe it was wrong for the sheriff’s office to award a no-bid contract to a personal friend of the sheriff. Nelson did not violate any laws. The training for his deputies was needed. And the contract was, in the end, not given to his friend. But government contracts must be awarded in a way so there is not a whiff of favoritism.

The question remains, though, who is the best person to lead improvement at the sheriff’s office?

Schaier, 35, does not have significant leadership experience. Yes, he was the general sales manager at a car dealership. Yes, having experience does not matter if you are awful. And if you have ever spoken to Schaier, you know he would put every effort into it. But Schaier does not have leadership experience. That matters.

If you do not know, Schaier shot and killed Michael Tyler Jacques during a traffic stop in Bend in 2016. No charges were filed against Schaier after an investigation. The city of Bend’s insurance company paid the family of Jacques $800,000. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if that incident influences your decision of how to vote. Schaier talks about it at about the 16-minute mark of our interview with him on The Bulletin’s Facebook page.

Nelson, 49, was born and raised in Bend. He began as a reserve deputy sheriff in 1993. He immediately gives credit for the department’s successes to the men and women who work with him.

He believes traditional law enforcement is not the best way to deal with every person that his deputies encounter. For instance, he’s a big supporter of the new Deschutes County Stabilization Center, which gets people treatment rather than just putting them in jail. He has a full-time medical director in the jail. And he has been working on developing more health and wellness options for his deputies, which is vital in their stressful work.

If there’s one thing that Nelson has said to us again and again over the years, is that he is looking to learn and improve himself and his office. We believe he’s sincere.

The sheriff’s office needs to always be a work in progress. It’s leader needs to be striving to improve. Schaier and Nelson would try. Nelson has the leadership experience that gives him a better chance to deliver.

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