Sheriff Candidates Meet The Public

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RENO, NV - The next Washoe County Sheriff will supervise law enforcement in the unincorporated areas of the county, administer the jail, provide the crime lab that serves most of the state and oversees a more than $90 million budget.

It's one of the most important offices on the ballot, one that directly impacts our families' safety.

And the retirement of Sheriff Mike Haley has left a wide open race to replace him. The question is how many voters will show up Tuesday and how they will make their decisions.

A low percentage of local voters is expected at the polls to choose which two candidates will meet in November.

They've seen campaign signs and mailers, but few have actually met any of them. That worried Sharon Oren.

"We have some really good candidates but the public isn't really informed enough to make the best choice," says Oren.

So, Oren invited all the candidates and the public to his Kietzke Lane gun shop, Maccabee Arms, for some face time.

Four of the five candidates, Jim Lopey, Dave Butko, Jim Beltran and Chuck Allen showed up Monday. Only Undersheriff Tim Kuzanek was missing.

The candidates say they've been getting questions about Second Amendment rights. Actually there appears to be little or no difference between them on the issue.

Still, considering the setting, it was not surprising the subject came up here, though the voters had their own personal concerns.

"I'm concerned with the Second Amendment in light of what happened this weekend in Las Vegas and how they can prevent something like that happening here," said Erin Fox, a young mother and wife of a deputy..

Greg Ross, who operates a local gun rights website and carried a pistol on his hip, says he came looking for the most gun-friendly candidate.

"Will they allow open carry in the Sheriff's office?" he asked. "Because if they don't what does that say about their support of open carry elsewhere?"

But there were other issues.

"I'm concerned with how law enforcement handles cases involving the mentally ill," said Myles Gisel. "Since we've decommissioned so many of our mental health facilities, it's become a responsibility of law enforcement and I want to know how they're going to handle that."

In addition to Second Amendment issues, the candidates say they've been getting questions about the budget, allocation of resources and the level of service, in particular response to property crimes.