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Oneida County residents will pick from three candidates to be their new sheriff

John Christophersen, left, Doug Williams, and Jonathan Hayes. | Courtesy photos
MALAD CITY — Three candidates are aiming to become the Oneida County Sheriff.
Current Sheriff Arne Jones is not seeking re-election. Republicans John Christophersen, Doug Williams, and Jonathan Hayes are all seeking to replace him. David Murphy is no longer seeking election. sent the same eight questions to each county candidate. Their responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less. is publishing the answers in their entirety, and without any grammatical or style editing.
The primary election is May 21. Because there are no Democrats running, the new sheriff will be decided by the primary election.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Christophersen: My name is John Christophersen. I am a candidate for Oneida County Sheriff. I have lived in Oneida County all my life, growing up on the family farm. I attended Malad schools, graduating from Malad High School in 1982. I attended and graduated from Wyoming Technical School in 1983 as a Heavy Diesel Mechanic.
I returned to Malad and made it my home, where I worked as a mechanic and raised two daughters. In 1993, after being laid off from a job, I accepted an offer to work as a deputy sheriff in Oneida County for Sheriff Bill Neal. In ’93, I also joined the Oneida County Ambulance and became certified as an EMT, volunteering for 12 years. I served as president for two years.
I attended the Idaho POST academy in 1994, graduating that fall. I worked for Oneida County as a patrol deputy until 1999 when I left to take a better-paying job to support my family.
I returned to mechanic work and then transitioned into driving truck. In 2004, I started and operated my own trucking business. I continued operating a successful trucking business until 2010 when the desire to be home and opportunity to take over the family farm arose. In 2009, I married Kristi K. and, along with her, gained another daughter. We worked together on the farm and attended Jr. and High School rodeos and High School Volleyball for our daughter. I worked at other local driving jobs and maintenance positions until 2018 when I was hired by Oneida County as a patrol deputy. I attended the POST academy at ISU and graduated that fall.
Williams: I am Doug Williams and I am running for Oneida County Sheriff. I am currently the Chief Deputy for the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and have been employed as a law enforcement officer with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years. I have lived in Oneida County for 51 years. I have three amazing children Haden Williams, Samantha Williams, and Jace Williams and one super adorable granddaughter Kenlee.
Hayes: I have served in Eastern Idaho; as a Missionary, State Trooper, Felony Parole Agent, Idaho Young Republicans Regional Director and currently as a State Youth Committee Person and delegate for the Oneida County Republican GOP. Previously I studied Psychology at Utah Valley University while serving as a Volunteer Fireman in Pleasant Grove UT. I was a Program Manager at Utah State Developmental Center, a Seminary Teacher, and was the Operations Manager for Connor Boyack at Libertas Institute. My wife and I have been married for 9 years; she is the Director of Assessments & Program Development with ABS Kids. We homeschool and have four children aged 7, 5, 3 and 1.
Why are you seeking political office? Briefly explain your political platform.
Williams: My decision to run for sheriff was based on the tremendous amount of encouragement from the community, co-workers, current and past Sheriff’s Office employees and friends and family. I am very experienced and have a profound knowledge on current policies and procedures within the criminal, civil and emergency communications functionality of the Sheriff’s Office, including experience with budgeting and grants. I am the only candidate that has an active basic and intermediate certification as a law enforcement officer in the State of Idaho.
One of my primary goals is protecting our youth and to make our schools a safe and drug free environment for all students. I believe each student has a right to a drug free and safe learning environment. It is imperative that the Sheriff’s Office works with the schools on safe school initiatives, anti-bullying campaigns and have an active presence in all schools.
Another goal of mine is to make victims of crime a priority and having their needs come first and foremost. Training and education amongst deputies is vital in ensuring victims are not re-victimized by a lack of compassion or discounted by any department member who makes contact, all victims need to be treated with respect, dignity and empathy.
Hayes: I am seeking political office because I am committed to serving my community and I have done this by bringing contending groups together to unite under common causes. I have experience running large teams in dynamic situations. I recognize that the Sheriff’s Department is consistently understaffed, and our other candidates serve in important positions which would need immediate replacement and training in an already stressed environment. I am not taking anyone away, rather I would be adding to the existing experience and leadership, without bringing in any bias. We need to repair broken relationships with county and other law enforcement partners. We must refine our training, hire those of moral integrity and maintain accountably without compromising transparency.
Christophersen: I am seeking the office of sheriff to serve Oneida County and bring about positive change. I would like to bring community, cooperation, honesty, and integrity back into the department. I have a strong commitment to cooperating with county and city leaders. I am committed to reestablishing better working relationships with our surrounding agencies and the state police. I believe that all citizens have a right to be heard and treated equally and fairly. I believe that all residents of Oneida County deserve to see a patrol vehicle in their neighborhood no matter how far out in the county they are. I believe the safety and security of children in our schools is a priority. Training our officers in the schools to recognize and respond to a child in crisis before a tragedy occurs is especially important.
What areas in your county need immediate improvement? What actions will you take to address those needs?

a) Fully staffing our Sheriff’s Office by working collaboratively with our School Resource Officer and teaming up with state Law Enforcement in recruitment opportunities such as local job fairs and other appropriate public events. I would like to collaborate with our local school board, our Deputies, and our School Resource Officer in establishing an appropriate Junior Deputies program so we could locally hire and give opportunities to students seeking a career field in law.
b) Refine our training program by working with the Deputies and existing leadership in revewing evaluations and strengthening weaknesses. Implementing current and proven training practices. Ensure that Dispatch and Deputies have a voice and leadership opportunities.
c) Reduce recreational drug use and traffic through Oneida County, by collaborating with our Law Enforcement partners, and seeking participation in recovery teams such as Drug Court as is done in many counties in Idaho.

Christophersen: The areas I see needing immediate improvement are: 1; recruitment and retention of officers: It has always been difficult to retain officers once they are hired. This is usually due to inadequate pay and benefits. The pay is better than it has ever been, but with some better benefits, officers leave to better provide for their families. 2; better community involvement, transparency, and more effective action from the sheriff’s office.
Williams: Like many other agencies across the nation, the recruitment and retention of officers is a serious obstacle facing Oneida County. This needs immediate attention or it will continue to be a serious challenge for future law enforcement agencies and our county. Lack of staff can cause many issues within an agency. Deputies working extreme overtime hours, constantly being called out on their days off, and being denied personal time off. This can be detrimental to the responsibilities in law enforcement. Longer response times, timely investigations, inadequate coverage and less law enforcement presence in our community. Over the past years, with the help of the current and preceding Sheriff’s, the Oneida County commissioners has increased wages to law enforcement, but has yet to offer health benefits for families. We have lost many good officers, qualified applicants and possible lateral transfers due to this. As Sheriff, I will continue to work with the commissioners in efforts to help incentivize men and woman toward a career in law enforcement.
What are the greatest long term challenges facing people in your county? What is your plan to meet those challenges?
Williams: Like stated in question 3, recruitment and retention of officers needs immediate attention or it will continue to be a serious long-term challenge for future law enforcement agencies and our county.
Christophersen: The greatest challenge for our community is growth and the influx of people. The population of Oneida County is growing, and along with that comes new challenges. Oneida County is predominantly a farming community. As it grows, the rights of the farmers and all landowners must be protected. Mental health in our community, schools, and within our own ranks is especially important.
Hayes: The greatest longterm challenges which face our county are tribalistic contention and generational biases of families and businesses. No matter how well an established program is, it will be of no benefit if we perpetuate immoral and divisive behavior. We must elect those who will serve for the benefit of the county and not themselves. We need those who are peacemakers and do not compromise integrity.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views? How will you communicate directly with constituents?
Christophersen: All people of Oneida County will have the opportunity to be heard. I will have an open-door policy; I will always be willing to listen and communicate with the citizens of Oneida County. I will be out in the county where I am visible and approachable.
Hayes: Politics should not influence the decision making of the Sheriff’s Office. I recognize that tribalism is decisive and a key indicator of a failing community. I prefer to communicate with my constituents in person for accurate and efficient council and dialogue.
Williams: Listening and communicating with those of different views helps us think outside the box and appreciate different ways to look at different subject matter. Having good relations and an open-door policy for direct communication will help provide those questions and answers on how to best serve our community and any other questions or issues that arise.
What parts of the county budget could use more funding? Where are places in the budget that cuts could be made?
Hayes: Concerning the county budget, the Sheriff’s Office could use more funding to provide a living wage, it is difficult to fill high risk low pay positions. All costs must be weighed and therefore we must elect heads of Office who are willing to function as a team for the County rather than misers for individual departments.
Williams: Budget constraints in a small County like Oneida is challenging and has an effect on wage, benefits, training, equipment and many other aspects of law enforcement. A budget increase in theses areas will help with the recruitment and retention issues and also help protect both the citizens and those serving in a law enforcement capacity.
Having better transparency between all departments in Oneida County and the County Commissioners would add a huge benefit to Oneida County. This would help create a thorough check and balance system of tax payer’s dollars. Working together and having a thorough knowledge of how departments operate can generate cost cutting ideas and new ideas on how to improve tasks more efficiently.
Christophersen: The county budget is a tricky issue. While being mostly agricultural, there is not much more can squeeze out of it. The county commissioners have an exceedingly challenging time allocating the money. I feel that through open lines of communication and constructive debate, a good budget can be accomplished. The areas that I feel need improvement are more funding for part-time help and a reduction in comp-time hours.
What is the role of local media in your community? How can county officials work to have a better relationship with the media?
Christophersen: Local media is especially important in the community. The local paper is the only source of local happenings for some residents. I would welcome the media into my office anytime to keep the public informed.
Williams: The local media provides coverage of local happenings and events that include city council and commissioner’s meetings, news of record from the Sheriff’s Office, school activities and much more. Active communication with the local media would help build stronger relationships with not only the media but the good people of Oneida County that we serve.
Hayes: The Idaho Enterprise serves as Oneida County’s local media source and county officials can always maintain and improve their relationship with consistent publications and updates.
Voter turnout and participation continues to be low in Idaho. What efforts can be made to stimulate greater voter involvement in elections and government?
Williams: Voting rights are a protected constitutional right and participating in the election process is one of our key freedoms as Americans. Getting out and communicating with citizens and encouraging them to vote is vital. Also, helping educate them on their voter rights, where and how they can register to vote and the Idaho election process can also increase voter involvement.
Hayes: At our recent Republican caucus, most who turned out to vote did so because they received a notification in the mail. We have had many people move into Idaho who often neglect to update their voter status. Mailers and online ads with links to “Vote Idaho” can help increase our voter turnout.
Christophersen: Voter turnout is normally low in rural areas. If voters are better informed about the issues and they feel that it is important and that their vote will count, they will make the effort to get out and vote.
The post Oneida County residents will pick from three candidates to be their new sheriff appeared first on East Idaho News.

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