Mark Essick, one of four candidates running for Sonoma County Sheriff, says that his experience and goals for the Sheriff’s department make him the best choice. In his presentation to the Windsor Democratic Club on Thursday, October 26th, he made the case for his election .
Captain Essick, whose appearance was first in a series of conversations that the club plans to have with all the candidates for sheriff, said that one of his major goals was changing the composition of the department to look more like the community. Currently, 95% of the deputies are white males. Essick believes that the department should resemble the population of Sonoma County, with its minorities of blacks, Asians, and LGBTQ individuals, ans which is 26% Latino and 50% female. That requires changes to the departments culture, including promotions up to positions of leadership.
Homelessness and related mental health problems are a top issue for Essick. He explained the fiscal and ethical implications of the ways in which we currently deal with the homeless. Arresting them costs $153 per day at the jail. Sending them to the emergency room costs $1500 for the ambulance and $3500 per day for treatment at the ER.
Essick agrees that the currently active program of Housing First (putting the homeless in their own apartments) is the best solution but believes that it has to be accompanied by counseling and treatment. He would wholeheartedly agree to a reduction of $153 per day in the Sheriff’s Department budget for every inmate diverted to treatment and housing. This would free up funding from the county and cities for such programs.
Essick represented the former Sheriff, Steve Freitas, on the CALLE task force, created after the Andy Lopez shooting. He explained to the audience how the process of oversight now works. Incidents are reviewed by IOLERO, headed by Jerry Threet. Essick likened this process and recommendations that follow to that of a grand jury. There is no legal necessity to follow the recommendations but the sheriff’s office would be neglectful and subject to public and press criticism if they ignored them.
In the question period that followed, Essick was asked about immigration. He stated that it is “none of my business” in reference to knowing the immigration status of residents of our county or those arrested or in the jail. He feels that the trust and cooperation of everyone in our community is essential to good law enforcement and the feeling of security of all residents.
Mark Essick was born and raised in Novato. He now lives in Cloverdale and has close connections to Sonoma County with all of his near relatives living in the region.
— Rick Massell and Val Hinshaw
Note: The Windsor Democratic Club will hold a business meeting from 1 to 3 pm on Saturday, November 11, at the Windsor Round Table restaurant. Regular meetings, on the fourth Thursday of the month, will start again in January 2018.