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Local deputy running against incumbent for Jefferson County Sheriff

Incumbent Jefferson County Sheriff Steve Anderson (left) is running against Jake Hannabach (right) | Alex Lemoing,
RIGBY — A new candidate is running against the current Jefferson County Sheriff this election season for a chance at a 4-year term in office.
Incumbent Jefferson County Sheriff Steve Anderson is running against Jake Hannabach, a Madison County sheriff’s deputy. asked the candidates to answer the same eight questions. Their responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less. We are publishing the answers in their entirety and without any grammatical or style editing.
The primary election is May 21.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Anderson: I was born and raised in Idaho. I joined the United States Army and served overseas for four years before being honorably discharged. I began my law enforcement career in 1995. I have held the rank of Sergeant, Lieutenant and Chief Deputy before becoming Sheriff in 2015. During my career, I have been the lead investigator on homicides, active shooter investigations and successful in arrests and convictions in crimes against children cases. I have been involved in many charitable events throughout Jefferson County.
Hannabach: Jake Hannabach is a veteran police officer with 15+ years of law enforcement experience. He is currently serving with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office as a Deputy Sheriff. Jake started his law enforcement career as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff for the Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff’s Office where he served for 6 years. During his time with the toughest and most high-profile Sheriff’s Office in the country, he learned the importance of leadership, integrity, and communications skills. Since that early time, he has had opportunities as a leader, mentor, and trainer to enhance those skills. He served as a Idaho State Probation/Parole Agent and a Patrol Officer/Detective for the Rigby Police Department.
Jake is a graduate of the Idaho Police Academy and has obtained numerous certifications in management and specialized training. Additional leadership and management experience include being the owner and operator of an auto repair shop for 9 years.
A native of Wyoming, Jake lives in Rigby and has close family ties in this part of the State. He is married and enjoys hunting, golfing, leather work, hanging out with family – especially his grandson, and smoking anything on the grill.
Why are you seeking political office? Briefly explain your political platform.
Anderson: I am running for reelection for Jefferson County Sheriff because I believe that I have the experience and passion to continue to grow the Sheriff’s Office in the right direction for the future. The Sheriff’s Office and I believe in people’s constitutional rights and we police with empathy and integrity.
Hannabach: I am running for office because I believe that the fundamental purpose of the Sheriff’s Office is to safeguard and serve our community with integrity and respect.
The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for providing citizens with a law enforcement agency that is responsive to their needs. My guiding principles include Integrity – Earning and sustaining public trust by adhering to strong ethical values and transparent accountability. Service – Providing professional public safety services to all members of our community, free from bias, and with respect and humility. Leadership – Using words and actions that set clear expectations of high standards and inspiring others towards a common destination.
What areas in your county need immediate improvement? What actions will you take to address those needs?
Anderson: Jefferson County is growing at a rapid pace. We need more coverage to assist in taking calls for service. I will be approaching the Commissioners on the next budget cycle to request another west side position, another east side and a detective to tackle the growing crimes against children cases we are encountering.
Hannabach: Like many people, I recognize that this is a pivotal time for the Sheriff’s Office. There has been significant Deputy Sheriff turnover during the last four years, and I believe this is the most critical time for experienced leaders to step up and lead the way.
Investing in and supporting all staff to better serve each other, and more importantly, the citizens of Jefferson County is critical. Our Deputies are the most valuable asset we have. I would prioritize safety, mental and physical well-being, and Work Life Balance with staffing models that focus on public safety and commitment to peer support principles. I believe that employees should be able to work and accrue a fair paid time off plan and be able to use it. Short staffing expectations must be addressed. Every Deputy will be utilized to his or her potential, including command staff. I will be a “working” Sheriff and I expect command staff to follow my lead. Training tracks for professional growth and programs with resources for families will be implemented. I will implement proven strategies to improve retention and market opportunity for new staff. There is no reason that a Deputy should have to work two or three jobs to supplement income from the County. The loyalty door swings both ways; when Deputies are respected, trusted, and supported, they will stay with the Sheriff’s Office and serve county residents to the best of their ability. We need to keep these men and women in our county.
What are the greatest long-term challenges facing people in your county? What is your plan to meet those challenges?
Anderson: Growth is a challenge for our county. I will grow the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to meet those needs.
Hannabach: The greatest long term challenge is population growth. As the population grows, so does the demand for law enforcement services. Increased call volume and crime rates: The call volume for the Sheriff’s Office tends to increase steadily each year. Even if the crime rate remains the same, the natural population growth implies more incidents. In reality, the crime rate rises as well. Property claims, such as thefts, burglaries, and vandalism, tend to be more prevalent. These crimes are often directly tied to drug use, as individuals seek money to support their drug habits.
Balancing community safety: The Sheriff’s Office must strike a balance between maintaining public safety and respecting individual rights. As the population grows, this delicate balance becomes more challenging. Ensuring adequate law enforcement coverage while respecting civil liberties is an ongoing struggle. Population growth requires the Sheriff’s Office to be adaptable, resourceful, and strategic in addressing the evolving needs of the communities. Despite the challenges, dedicated law enforcement professionals continue to serve and protect.
In addition to having an appropriate number of experienced law enforcement Deputies, I will implement evidence-based policing strategies that focus on prevention, partnerships, and targeted patrol. The Sheriff’s Office will promote community policing models at all levels to develop connections with the people we serve to empower neighborhood safety partnerships.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views? How will you communicate directly with constituents?
Anderson: I will best represent the views of the Jefferson County constituents by following the constitution and their rights. I am a Sheriff for the people and everyone is treated fairly regardless of their political views. We at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, take pride in being available at city council meetings, community events, social media platforms and have an open door policy to communicate with our citizens’.
Hannabach: Opening lines of communication between the Office and citizens is very important to me. I feel that Deputies should know the families they are working for with a knock on the door to introduce themselves. Effective policing requires building trust and transparency with our communities, even those with differing viewpoints. Creating a Transparency Dashboard would provide easy access to crime data and employee complaints, collisions, and use of force statistics. Neighborhood meetings to “Share with the Sheriff” to prioritize listening while meeting with stakeholders throughout the county to identify their issues. Establish a Community Advisory Team to build an integrated team that fully represents the diversity of our county. Communicating directly with constituents is the best way to find out what their views are.
What parts of the county budget could use more funding? Where are places in the budget that cuts could be made?
Anderson: I believe that the county could use more funding for wages. We need to retain good employees and pay them so that they can afford to live in our current economy.
Hannabach: The idea behind the election of a sheriff is that the position is subject to a higher degree of direct accountability from the population that voted the individual into office. The Sheriff’s Office is not directly governed by the county commissioners, or mayors, but the budget for the Sheriff’s Office is controlled by the county commissioners. It’s an interesting balance of power, and unfortunately this lack of budgetary control and oversight can lead to a loss of support for the Sheriff’s Office.
Jefferson County residents rely on the services of the Sheriff to feel safe in their homes. Yet, the Sheriff is often running on thin staffs and demanding schedules, having to cover large areas of territory with lower staff numbers than a larger, better funded neighboring police force. The value of the Sheriff’s Office cannot be underestimated, which is why it must have support not just from voters but also from fellow elected officials and county commissioners. The Sheriff’s Office relies on a fair distribution of tax revenue that is shared among multiple departments. When the revenue and how it’s spent is controlled by those outside the Sheriff’s Office, the budget can often be distributed unevenly. It’s important to ensure that law enforcement is not only held to a high standard but also is given the tools necessary to properly protect and serve citizens.
My priorities for fiscal responsibility and accountability include a competitive compensation package that preserves a productive and skilled workforce, allocation of resources to priority needs, and systematic renewal and replacement of technology, fleet, and vital equipment.
What is the role of local media in your community? How can county officials work to have a better relationship with the media?
Anderson: I media serves a very important role in our community with reporting on current events that occurring in our jurisdiction. I have an amazing relationship with the media.
Hannabach: Local media are an essential service for rural communities. Depending on what is being reported, local residents might feel they lack important information about civic, social, and political affairs. In today’s world, good local media reporting can help us to manage headline stress. When disaster strikes, local media can promote community cohesion and resilience. Good reporting can moderate news exposure by providing community connection that allows residents to stay informed. Report credible information by researching and covering issues that directly impact residents’ quality of life. The local media plays a vital role in political participation by encouraging people to become involved in their communities, promoting civic life and democracy by holding public officials accountable and encouraging citizen engagement. Local media plays a significant role in providing context for national and regional news.
Local media can work with county officials by keeping communities informed, fostering civic participation, and contributing to shared understanding of local matters. Its role is essential for a healthy democracy and well-connected society.
Voter turnout and participation continues to be low in Idaho. What efforts can be made to stimulate greater voter involvement in elections and government?
Anderson: I think participation could be improved if we as a society were more involved with what decisions are being made by the people we elect into office. Get involved and hold our values and beliefs to the front of the platform we support.
Hannabach: Voter education, proper handling of revenue funds, and a deeper understanding of the impact that the Sheriff’s Office has on their communities will help forge a path toward improved support by voting.
It is important that we as voters do our part about being informed of issues and electing officials and commissioners who will remain true to the integrity and preservation of the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff holds a personal level of accountability to the voters who put him in office, but when he is not given the tools to achieve that accountability, the entire system is put in jeopardy.
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