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King & Gill face off at polls for Lafayette County Sheriff
sheriff race
Jason King (L) and Reg Gill (R) will be facing off at the polls during the Aug.12 primary for Lafayette County Sheriff.

At this point, the primary to be held on Tuesday, Aug. 12 will most likely decide who the next sheriff of Lafayette County will be. Republican candidates Jason King of Darlington and Reg Gill of Cuba City will be facing off at the polls. Since King and Gill are the only announced candidates for the office of sheriff, the primary will most likely be the deciding election, rather than the November poll date.

Current Lafayette County Sheriff, Scott Pedley, announced in March that he would not be seeking re-election for the office of sheriff in the 2014 election. Pedley will serve out the remainder of his current term, which will end on Jan. 5, 2015.

At the end of his term, Pedley will have served as a Wisconsin law enforcement official for 35 years, with 25 of those years as elected Lafayette County Sheriff and said he has decided to “turn this page of his life and move on to other things of interest.”

Pedley announced his endorsement of candidate Reg Gill on July 1. “I believe Reg is the best candidate for numerous reasons, and among them, from a sheriff’s perspective, is his maturity and his even-keeled temeperament. He has the ability to get along well with others even when disagreements arise. I also must say that his strong work ethic will be an inpiration to all of the members of the sheriff’s office,” said Pedley in a press release.

King and Gill were both contacted by the Republican Journal with a candidate questionairre that will share their stances and opinions with voters, their answers are as follows:
Jason King

Detail your background and why you¹re running for this position:
I am a life-long resident of Lafayette County who was born right here at our very own Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County and was raised in Willow Springs Township and the City of Darlington.  I grew up in a loving, Christian home that valued hard work, integrity, common decency, and compassion for others.  I remember helping my elderly neighbors with lawn care, snow removal, and just general upkeep and never asked for anything in return.  I believe this upbringing taught me the value of community service and volunteerism which are big parts of my life today.  It was those values that led me to pursue a career in law enforcement after graduating from Darlington High School.
As I got older, I acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration while working my way through college as a part-time law enforcement officer in Belmont and Darlington.  My degree opened doors to a number of different opportunities; however, my heart remained in Lafayette County, so I never left.  My wife of 13 years, Tammy, and I have settled in Darlington where we are raising our three children.
I consider it a privilege to have served the past 20 years as a law enforcement officer in my home county, primarily as a Darlington Police Officer, but also as a part-time Lafayette County Sheriff’s Deputy.  I have made it my entire adult life’s work to preserve the health and safety of Lafayette County residents, both as a law enforcement officer, and as a volunteer EMT.  I am running for this position for two primary reasons.  First, I believe the cornerstone of our democracy is choice.  The people of Lafayette County deserve to have a choice in who their next sheriff will be.  Second, I believe my education, my supervisory and executive experience, and my training uniquely qualify me to run for the position.  The position of sheriff, just like the position of police chief, is an executive position.  Having served for nearly 8 years as a police chief has prepared me for the duties one must undertake as a sheriff.

What do you believe qualifies you to serve as sheriff of Lafayette County?
Lafayette County residents can vote for me knowing they are voting for the most qualified and experienced candidate.  This is important because on August 12 Lafayette County residents will elect the next chief executive of the sheriff’s department.  The person elected will supervise law enforcement officers and personnel, manage a budget, write grants, develop policy, direct the day-to-day operations of the department, carry out the constitutional duties of the office, and oversee the interactions between law enforcement officers and the people they serve.  This is precisely what I do now as Darlington’s police chief.  No other candidate can say this.  I have more years of service, more education, and more law enforcement executive experience.  I believe my experience and education, coupled with my life-long compassion for the people of Lafayette County, makes me the best candidate for the office and will serve to provide for a smooth transition. 

What are the biggest challenges facing the next sheriff and the sheriff¹s department as a whole?
There are a number of challenges the next sheriff and his staff will face but perhaps none will be greater than the challenge of providing the absolute best services to the people of Lafayette County while meeting budgetary constraints.  This is no easy task and requires a delicate balancing act that I, as an experienced chief executive, understand.  We face the challenge of allocating enough financial resources to meet the emergent needs of our residents and of providing training to our officers and staff to adapt to changing trends in law enforcement.  At the same time, we must address the more long term concerns of our county’s aging jail and communications towers, just to name a few.  That’s where my experience as a conservative and fiscally responsible steward of taxpayer dollars will be of benefit to the people of Lafayette County.  As Darlington’s police chief, I have advanced the department’s capabilities and met the growing needs within the community while still meeting the necessary budgetary goals expected by the city council.

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What is your experience with budgeting and grant writing?
I have extensive budgetary experience in both the public and private sector.  My wife and I operate two small businesses, King Homes, LLC, and King Family Childcare Center.  As a small business owner and taxpayer, I not only understand the need to have a realistic budget, I also understand the adverse effect tax increases have upon private citizens and businesses.  My budgetary experience in the private sector has helped me in the public sector as a police chief to remember to spend within the department’s means and not impose unnecessary expenses upon the tax payers.  As Darlington’s police chief I have balanced the police budget and even returned tens of thousands of dollars to the city’s general fund through the years.  I have learned to work with the union, not against it, and in doing so have mutually agreed upon changes that have reduced overtime by nearly 90% since I took office. 
I also have extensive grant writing experience.  I have acquired tens-of-thousands of dollars in grants to help acquire the equipment and training needed to provide the absolute best policing services while reducing the financial burden upon the local taxpayers.  In fact, many of the progressive services the residents of Darlington have come to enjoy are funded by grants and donations.  For example, the department’s K-9 Unit, prescription drug drop off, bike helmet giveaway, gun lock giveaway, D.A.R.E. program, Safe Rides Program as well as a number of technological advancements our agency has enjoyed like in-car computers, thermal imaging, and night vision have all been a result of my grant writing success.  I would work to accomplish similar success stories while at the sheriff’s office.

Is there anything you would specifically like to focus on implementing or changing within the sheriff’s department if you are elected?
I firmly believe the people of Lafayette County are better served through prevention rather than reaction.   That’s why I propose partnering with local police departments and school officials to implement more prevention programs in Lafayette County schools.  Rather than wait to react to problems, I propose making members of the sheriff’s department staff available to teach in classrooms all over the county to educate our youth, thereby preventing the problems from happening in the first place.  As the only certified School Resource Officer in Lafayette County, I have implemented this type of Police-School Liaison Program in Darlington with great success and I wish to expand upon it countywide. 
I also propose the implementation of Citizen Advisory Groups made up of citizens of the county who meet with the sheriff on occasion to provide insight as to what concerns face their particular area of the county.  I believe this type of focused, in-depth interaction with the people we serve will aid deputies in addressing, and even preventing, the issues that cause concern for our residents. 
These services do not require an increase in the budget or extra personnel.  They simply require a reprioritization of resources and a leader who is passionate about prevention.

Address any other issues you believe are important in this election:
When it comes to this election, I think it’s important for Lafayette County voters to consider which candidate already possesses the set of skills required of an administrator in a law enforcement agency, like compassion, experience, knowledge, and leadership.  I have devoted my entire adult life to acquiring those skills and am eager to put them to use as Lafayette County’s next sheriff.
If voters are not available to vote on August 12, I urge them to consult with their municipal clerks about absentee ballots and general voting procedures.    Finally, please vote!  The August 12 primary will likely determine who your next sheriff will be. 
Reg Gill
Detail your background and why you’re running for this position:
    I began my law enforcement career as a part-time officer with the Cuba City Police Department in 1998 while attending the Law Enforcement Academy at Southwest Tech in Fennimore. I also started working part-time for the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department as well in 1999. I was hired into full-time service in March of 2000. Prior to my law enforcement career, I worked for several years as an automotive technician for Virtue Motors, after which I was self-employed as a MAC Tools distributor for several years.
    I am running for the office of sheriff because I am committed to the people of Lafayette County that I have served for the last 15 years.  I look forward to providing leadership and guidance to the very qualified and committed staff that currently serve at the sheriff’s office. I wish to continue the professionalism and service-oriented protection that the office has provided in the past under the guidance of Sheriff Pedley. I have a tremendous respect for the fine people of Lafayette County and I very much wish to continue my service to them as their sheriff.
What do you believe qualifies you to serve as sheriff of Lafayette County?
    I have had the opportunity to serve under and learn from some of the finest law enforcement administrators and officers in southern Wisconsin. I believe my passion for the job and my belief that the position of county sheriff is to provide service and protection to all the citizens of the county best qualifies me for the job.  I am the only candidate who has had 15 years experience as a Lafayette County Sheriff’s Deputy, has had extensive training in county-wide law enforcement, and have what I would consider an excellent working relationship with the emergency services volunteers throughout the county and surrounding area.
    I also have had the advantage of working side by side with the staff of the sheriff’s office, ten years working nights and now five years working days as a deputy sheriff. I am familiar with the inner-workings of the office itself which include not only patrol but also dispatch and jail responsibilities as well as the differences between the day shift and night shift duties.  I also recognize the unique challenges that a complicated, and often very stressful job, can create for the staff as well as their families.
    Having had the experience of working in a small city police department and now the experience of 15 years of county-wide law enforcement has given me a unique perspective into the differences that exist between the two positions. Although both officers and deputies respond to similar calls, there can be a vast difference in the variety of calls for service as well as the manner in which those calls are addressed.
What are the biggest challenges facing the next sheriff and the sheriff’s department as a whole?
    The biggest challenge will probably always be how to maintain the best possible service to the public while trying to remain in the constraints of the budget. Any unforeseen major events such as a triple homicide or major winter storms where extra personnel are needed for extended periods of time can have a major effect on the existing  budget.
    There are numerous challenges that the sheriff’s office continues to face, including increasing drug activity, as well as the variety of calls for service that come along with that increased activity. The calls for service that tend to increase in relation to the increased drug activity are thefts, burglaries, domestic disputes, assaults, and motor vehicle crashes.
    The increase in calls related to mental health issues also continue to rise. These calls for service create a tremendous burden from a personnel standpoint as well as a financial burden to the taxpayers of the county. Only through continued cooperation between law enforcement and Lafayette County Human Services can we appropriately deal with this ever increasing issue and provide those in need with the services they require.
What is your experience with budgeting and grant writing?
    I have experiences in budgeting in the private sector as well as with the sheriff’s office. In the operation of my own small business, it was necessary to produce a budget each year. At the Sheriff’s Office, I have assisted in the budget preparation in the area of equipment and supply purchases related to the ongoing firearms and tactical training we provide to our deputies. Much of the budgeting data within Lafayette County government is already provided to departments by the very thorough staff at the County Finance Department.  Line item budgeting is what we will continue to work with and present, based on needs, to the Law Enforcement Committee, Finance Committee, and full County Board.
    Grant writing is an area that I look forward to pursuing heavily. The sheriff’s office has been able to receive numerous grants throughout the past 20 plus years which total about $2 million. There are numerous management staff members at the sheriff’s office who have been very successful with grant writing and I plan to utilize their experiences to assist me in the area of grant writing. I also hope to offer the department’s assistance to other emergency government providers to seek and secure appropriate grants for their needs.
Is there anything you would specifically like to focus on implementing or changing within the sheriff’s department if you are elected?
     I think it is easy for people to make promises or plans when they are running for office, only to find when they are elected that it isn’t as easy to make sweeping changes as they had thought. Before I would make statements concerning changes that are needed in the sheriff’s office, I think it would be important to have the opportunity to get my feet wet, assess where we are, and work with the staff as a whole to map out what we would like to accomplish and how best to accomplish it. However, having said that, one area of change that is going to be forced upon us due to outdated equipment and unsupported technology is an upgrade in our records management system that would include computer-aided dispatching. This will be an essential upgrade that will benefit all county emergency services.