McDonald: Nothing Inconsistent In My Views Regarding Office Of The Sheriff

By JARET MCDONALD, candidate
Los Alamos County Council

I have been criticized for stating that I will vote to eliminate the Office of Sheriff in Los Alamos County. People have criticized me for this because I ran for the office in 2014. I ran because I wanted to fulfill the duties of Sheriff as defined in the Charter of Los Alamos County. 

The current Sheriff, Marco Lucero, has consistently tried to increase the role of the office beyond what the Charter established.

On Sept. 15, County Council Vice Chair Susan O’Leary, wrote about this concern in the Los Alamos Daily Post (link). The following are excerpts from her column:

“… every so often, we citizens elect a Sheriff who develops a strong desire to run a law enforcement agency. But that would be illegal under our Charter; it is explicitly prohibited by the County Charter.”

“According to the Los Alamos Monitor (12/5/2012), Sheriff Lucero attempted to place a question on our ballot in 2012 that would have changed the Charter, changing the scope of his office to include law enforcement activities.”

“Since that effort failed, the Sheriff has repeatedly asked the County Council to approve requests for law enforcement equipment or law enforcement vehicles to create a second de facto law enforcement agency in our County. Those requests were patently improper.”

“All of these requests and maneuvers have been denied or blocked by a majority of the County Council expressly, at least in my case, because it would have been against the law for the County Council to provide the Sheriff with any equipment or vehicles tied to law enforcement activities; because it is expressly illegal for our Sheriff to perform such duties.”

I respect, personally like and appreciate Sheriff Marco Lucero, but I disagree with his attempts to go beyond the Los Alamos County Charter duties of his office.

Sheriff Lucero’s attempts to expand the duties of Sheriff has placed residents in a dangerous position when it comes to potential law suits concerning deputies who  don’t have the same training or insurance as other law enforcement officers (LEO) such as our police department.   

I have heard people talk about “checks and balances” for the LEO function. That is why we have an elected County Council. Citizens are free to run for the Council and bring about changes they feel areappropriate. There is no Constitutional requirement for a Sheriff, and if the person in office continually tries to change the rules without the proper number of signatures on a petition, then perhaps it is time to eliminate the position.

It saddens and disappoints me, but I will vote against keeping the Office of Sheriff. If we had a Sheriff who conducted the office according to the Charter, I would vote to keep the office.

I hope to be successful in running for County Council this year. However, if in the future, I am not serving in a public office and the Sheriff position still exists, then I would consider running for the office again.

There is nothing inconsistent with my views. I would run with the intention of performing the actual duties of the office as set by the Charter. But the County cannot afford any more potential liabilities created by a Sheriff who attempts to go beyond his Los Alamos County Charter duties.