Scottsdale Lieutenant Mike Stauffer -- who is hoping to unseat Joe Arpaio as the Republican nominee for Maricopa County sheriff -- last week participated in New Times' inaugural online Town Hall Meeting, during which he answered every single question posed by readers in the comment section of the post.
Arpaio was offered a similar invitation. He declined.
See the discussion with Lt. Stauffer here.
As promised, for anyone who may have missed it, below you will find some of the highlights:
Question from WhoKnows: Do you think you'd have a better chance defeating Arpaio in the General election than the primary? Dems can not vote in the primary without changing their voter registration, and while independents can vote in the GOP primary, they may opt for other races in the Dem primary in 2012. Recall Saban tried the GOP primary in 2004.
Stauffer's reply: I believe that there is no place for partisan politics in law enforcement. Unfortunately, the sheriff's race is a partisan race. I have been a registered Republican since I was 18 years old and changing parties now would inject an undesirable political aspect to my campaign and distract from the real and pressing issues facing the MCSO. The current sheriff is counting on what you pointed out to occur so that he may retain his seat. I urge those Independents and Democrats that truly care to see a change to participate in the Republican primary and help usher in a change for Maricopa County.Thank you for your question.
Question from Phoenix Justice: I remember from a New Times interview with you that you want the MCSO to refocus on the unincorporated areas of Maricopa County and to leave the various cities to their respective police forces. With this refocusing, will that allow MCSO to downsize its staffing levels, thus relieving some stress on the county's budget?
Also, if elected, do you plan on getting rid of the Sheriff's Posse and possibly create a professional MCSO reserve force?
Stauffer's reply: I will conduct a work load study of the MCSO districts and jail facilities to determine appropriate staffing levels that will reduce response times and allow for appropriate public safety operations and investigations. Appropriate staffing levels are important for the control of unnecessary expenditures in staffing.
I will retain the Sheriff's Posse as they are an outstanding source for support of the mission of the MCSO. I will restructure the Posse so that there is a centralized command and control of the Posse. I will standardize their training and equipment as well. The Posse will be integrated into the command structure of MCSO and report directly to the Office of the Sheriff.
Question from Coz: Would you open up the MCSO financial books on a yearly basis for complete and full audits including the inmate canteen services so the tax payers know what money is coming in, where the money is being spent and for what?
Stauffer's reply: I will open up the entire MCSO budget process to public scrutiny.
Question from Roy Reyer: If you took over the the Sheriff's Office tomorrow, what would be the top 3 items on your agenda to move on immediately?
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1) I will Install a fully accountable, streamlined, and professional command staff and move to a MCSO facility. This will bring an immediate reduction in wasteful spending that can be applied to priorities.
2)Conduct full and open audits of MCSO activities and finances to determine where the agency stands.
3)Begin a strategic planning process with full participation from all employees to move the agency forward with buy in from everyone.Thanks for the question.
Question from Zach Henry: If elected, do you plan to bury the hatchet in regards to misdoings under Joe Arpaio, or will you investigate wrongs under his administration and prosecute those responsible?
Stauffer's reply: I will conduct audits of all MCSO activities and appropriately implement the consequences for wrongdoing. This will see that justice is served for past misdeeds. However, I will move the agency forward with a new sense of purpose that looks to the future, while learning from the past. Thanks for the question.