Election Guide: Ellis for Sheriff

Published 10:30 am Friday, October 29, 2010

Jeff Ellis is the challenging candidate in the 2010 race for Mower County Sheriff

Q. With Mower County’s new jail set to open soon, what makes you the best candidate to oversee the new facility? What will be some of the keys to operating the jail efficiently?
A. Having worked with the sheriff’s office as patrol and command staff for well over a decade, I have a thorough knowledge of the jail’s mission, function, and service. I know how things could be run to make the most out of our resources. Misplaced policies from the “Ivory Tower” hurt more than they help — like the .20 alcohol policy that will have cost taxpayers nearly a quarter of a million dollars by year’s end. I’ll bring a fresh perspective to jail policy and training, collaborating with experts to raise quality and reduce liability in the jail.

Q. Illegal immigration has been a significant issue in Mower County. How do felony forgery charges and potential deportations affect sheriff’s department?
A. This is a key issue for me. It’s important to our safety and security, but more than that we’ve felt like our hands have been tied — and I will change that. As a patrol sergeant I started long ago collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, developing relationships to help address this issue. As your Sheriff I will implement a comprehensive operating procedure that will guide our deputies and officers in effectively dealing with illegal immigration. I have already worked with others to research and prepare a draft policy to combat this problem directly; the policy was presented this past spring to the chief deputy and county attorney’s office, and has been waiting for action from the sheriff since then. As sheriff I won’t wait, I’ll take action – and I can tell you that there ARE things local law enforcement can do.Q. Crime rates are up locally, what techniques can you as sheriff implement to reduce those numbers?
A. Maximizing current resources through effective training, proactive versus reactive patrol, increased department morale, and active citizen involvement through police/community partnership is the very best strategy to attack rising crime rates in Mower County. By not only working together, but working together efficiently, we can really fight crime.

Email newsletter signup

Q. With Mower County facing continued budget concerns, are there any ways you could operate the sheriff’s department more efficiently?
A. I’ve talked a lot about sensible leadership and economic responsibility; those are values that I live. Years ago, I realized we could maintain services while saving tens of thousands of dollars by a simple schedule shift. This also increased morale and provided critical training, with no increase in cost. While I was designing the schedule, I heard from administrators “It will never work,” but I didn’t give up. Another example of living this philosophy was my taking initiative to begin meeting with the County Coordinator and County Finance Director in 2009 regarding budgetary issues. We need to keep open minds to new ideas, working together with citizens to keep costs down while maintaining the highest level of public safety.

Q. What skills do you have that you think are unique and make you stand out as a candidate?

A. Leadership is about motivating diverse groups of people to work towards a common goal;  communication, built on a solid foundation of technical skill, is key. Following these principles, I’ve found great success:  I’ve developed and defended policy in federal court; implemented a nationally recognized police program, including cost and liability analysis; I’ve tirelessly sought to improve my leadership skills, completing a police Supervisory Certificate program consisting of Ethical Decision Making, Motivational Leadership, Managerial Communications, Media Relations, and Police Management Principles & Practices; I’ve volunteered on regional and national executive boards, engaging in budgetary management, training development, and policy implementation; and I’ve received over 25 letters of recognition and commendation. A proud testament to the kind of leader I am is the recent announcement of support from local law enforcement officers across agencies.

Q. What other issue or issues are important to you as a candidate, and what policies do you favor in these areas?
A. Effective leaders know how to communicate – especially with the people they serve. The sheriff is the ONLY elected law enforcement official, so it’s critical that the sheriff always listen to the concerns of the citizens. Several years ago the current sheriff disbanded the Civil Service Commission, effectively silencing citizen input outside a single day in November every four years. Our government is based on a system of checks and balances, and this Commission provides balance to the power of the Office of Sheriff. I believe this Commission needs to be reinstated, so that this valued, important citizen input can be prominent in our County’s law enforcement.