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Old 10-27-2009, 02:29 PM
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ilbegone ilbegone is offline
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Default Sheriff, opponent keeping race for post free of hostility

Sheriff, opponent keeping race for post free of hostility

Stacia Glenn, Staff Writer

Each thinks he's better than the other, but neither contender for sheriff has anything blatantly bad to say about his opponent.

They express kind thoughts, insist it will be a positive political season - and then launch into explanations as to why they are a better candidate, subtly questioning the other's experience or dedication as they go.

Sheriff Rod Hoops and Deputy Mark Averbeck may have known each other for nearly three decades, but they now find themselves facing off as election rivals.

"I think we have a good relationship," Averbeck said. "I don't think he's mad that I'm running but I'm sure he'd rather run unopposed. But this is America and the voters have a choice."

That is the exact sentiment expressed by Hoops, who was appointed in January as interim sheriff when former Sheriff Gary Penrod retired with nearly two years left in his term.

"I've got nothing against (Averbeck)," Hoops said. "It's America, everybody has a right to run for sheriff. I think I'm more qualified, but I guess that's up to the voters of our fine county."

It looks to be a different kind of race than what Orange County witnessed in 2006, when former Sheriff Mike Carona immediately put his opponent on paid administrative leave and demoted him five months later.

Retired Lt. Bill Hunt, who filed a political retaliation lawsuit, chose to retire rather than accept a demotion that dropped him five ranks from a city police chief to a deputy sheriff.

The crux of Carona's move came about because of criticism Hunt levied against Carona's administration, something that Hunt argues is protected by First Amendment Rights.

Comments between Hoops and Averbeck have been nothing if not complimentary. They shook hands before a question-and-answer series sponsored by the San Bernardino County Safety Employees' Benefit Association.

But Hoops has pointed out that Averbeck has no management experience and may not know how to handle the department's $420 million budget.

And Averbeck has said Hoops is part of the good-`ole-boys system, which offers promotions based on friendship rather than merit.

When asked whether Hoops would consider retaliation for any campaign comments, he replied, "Heck no. Our organization is not like that. I'm not like that."

Averbeck, who currently works in the department's transportation division shuttling inmates to and from court, says he isn't concerned about what might happen after the election is over.

"I plan on winning," he said.

Voting for sheriff begins in June. The current term ends in January 2011.
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