Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Candidate questionnaire: Quay County Sheriff

 

October 27, 2014

Russell Shafer (left) and Nathan Wallace

link Russell Shafer (left) and Nathan Wallace

QCS Staff

The election of the Quay County Sheriff is the only contested local race in the Nov. 4 general election ballot. The candidates are Russell Shafer, Republican, and Nathan Wallace, Democrat.

The Quay County Sun asked each candidate the same five questions. Here, with candidates presented in ballot order, are their responses to those questions.

Russell Shafer, Republican.

Q. What would you do to reduce or eliminate abuse of methamphetamines and other illegal drugs in Quay County?

A. What I will do is utilize the education system at the youngest levels, first and second grades, and then follow ups at the middle school grades. I will utilize the local resources such as CYFD, Turquoise (Teambuilders) and Arise to help in the educational process. I will take a proactive approach in the apprehension of drug traffickers. I will work with state, local and regional agencies in cooperation to fight this evil that has plagued our community. I will also do my best to impress upon the court systems and the District Attorneys that the maximum penalties are necessary once an offender has been found guilty and brought in front of them for sentencing.

Q. What would you do to reduce child abuse and truancy in Quay County?

A. I will work closely with the school system to identify troubled students and work with CYFD in getting families the necessary assistance. I will also assist the Juvenile Probation Office in identifying troubled youths and work with them to find solutions to decrease truancies in Quay County Schools. I will attend the multidisciplinary group that meets monthly at CYFD and become an active member in trying to find solutions to these two problem areas.

Q. What would you do to raise the profile of the Quay County Sheriff’s Department in the county?

A. I will become an active member in the local resources such as Crime Stoppers, DWI task force, CYFD, Arise and the multidisciplinary group. I will work with County Commissioners, local city and village governments in addressing the needs of Law Enforcement in Quay County. I will work with state, local and regional agencies in attempts to decrease crime in our community.

Q. Now that the gross receipts tax for the emergency dispatch system has been approved by voters, how would you use these funds to improve the area’s emergency communications system?

A. For the Tucumcari-Quay County Regional Emergency Communication Center there is a board of members from each of the represented agencies it dispatches or at least there is supposed to be. This board of members oversees budgeting and spending expenditures, so no one person can do anything with funds without the rest of the board agreeing to how the funds are spent. As the Sheriff of Quay County I will become a member of this board and look for ways to improve the center within the financial budget and the needs of the community. Communication technology is ever changing and improving and the ability to keep up with changes can get very expensive. Anyone who has purchased a cell phone knows this. From my years of working very closely with the dispatch center and its employees, I know the key to this emergency communication center is its employees, and without these people to man this center it is useless. You can throw all the money in the world at new buildings and equipment but if you do not have people to run the center it becomes a useless tool. So what I want to do to improve the emergency communications center is work on hiring, training and retaining qualified dispatchers.

Q. What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A. I have been involved in law enforcement since 1996. I was hired as deputy sheriff in Norfolk, Virginia after a four-year enlistment in the United States Navy. In October of 2003, I returned home to Tucumcari and Quay County to continue my law enforcement career, first with the Quay County Detention Center then the Quay County Sheriff’s Office. In May of 2004 I joined the Tucumcari Police Department where I was promoted to the rank of sergeant and have served the citizens of Tucumcari with pride and respect. My training and experience with those organizations has prepared me for the challenges in being the next Quay County Sheriff. I trust in the institution of law enforcement and what it stands for. I believe in upholding the Constitutional rights of the people of the United States, New Mexico and Quay County. The deputies who serve the citizens of Quay County deserve a dedicated professional leader who takes an ethical approach in solving the problems we will encounter.

Nathan Wallace, Democrat

Q. What would you do to reduce or eliminate abuse of methamphetamines and other illegal drugs in Quay County?

A. The sheriff’s office should be active in the enforcement of illegal drugs and other crimes. It is important to develop a relationship with the public so people will share information concerning criminal activity. A priority will be to train, share information and work with all of the other law enforcement agencies in the area. It is imperative that the community and law enforcement work as a team to address the drug problem in our county.

Law enforcement needs to be involved with the schools, educating teachers on signs of drug usage, drug identification and other legal issues. It is important for law enforcement to be good role models for students and help educate them regarding the hazards and consequences of legal and illegal drugs.

My experience and knowledge in drug enforcement and drug interdiction will be very helpful in trying to address the drug problems in Quay County.

Q. What would you do to reduce child abuse and truancy in Quay County?

A. Officers need additional training to investigate all reported cases of suspected child abuse and take appropriate law enforcement measures. The sheriff’s office needs to work closely with the domestic violence program, the Quay County Health Council, schools, and the district attorney’s office to try to address child abuse issues. Addressing the drug and alcohol use as in question #1, should also help some of the child abuse issues. To address truancy issues, the sheriff’s office must collaborate with the schools, CYFD, juvenile probation, the district attorney’s office, and the district court (children’s court) to make sure all aspects of the children’s code are followed.

Q. What would you to do raise the profile of the Quay County Sheriff’s Department in the county?

A. First and foremost, this would necessitate improved response to calls for service. The sheriff’s department would be more involved in community activities, committees, organizations, schools, and with other agencies. An open-door policy is needed and all department employees need to be out in the county talking with people to hear the people’s concerns. Action plans can be developed to address some of the input or concerns of the communities. As employees of Quay County we still have to abide by and work within the boundaries of New Mexico law, current policies, and the United States Constitution. As policies become outdated and no longer useful, they need to be updated as they provide guidance, direction, and accountability for personnel. If new policies are needed, I will use my experience in writing policies to develop them.

Q. Now that the gross receipts tax for the emergency dispatch system has been approved by voters, how would you use these funds to improve the area’s emergency communication system?

A. The sheriff’s office will not receive funds from the gross receipts tax and also will not be managing the emergency communication center. The sheriff, however, will be a member of the board for that center and thus will have input into operations. I have been attending the meetings of this group both before and after the passage of the tax. It is important to Quay County to have a dedicated emergency communication system and a backup for that system. Salary increases are also crucial to retain qualified and experienced dispatchers. There is equipment which needs to be purchased and software that needs to be updated. I would work with the board using my previous experience in supervising a dispatch center to help create the best possible emergency communications center that the tax funding can provide.

Q. What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A. I have proven that I have the ability to be an effective and efficient manager as shown by my experience as a state police sergeant and lieutenant. Being the sub-district commander over all of Quay County, Guadalupe County, and parts of three other counties has helped prepare me to be Sheriff of Quay County. The basic, intermediate, advanced and command level certifications that I have obtained have also helped prepare and qualify me to be Quay County’s sheriff. My proven history as a hard worker and my knowledge of law enforcement are additional reasons I am the best candidate for the position of Sheriff of Quay County. I have the desire to serve the people of Quay County to the best of my ability and sincerely hope I am given the chance to be Sheriff of Quay County.

 

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