Concealed-weapon licenses hot issue in sheriff race |

Concealed-weapon licenses hot issue in sheriff race

Adam Jensen / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Although the vote to choose a successor to Sheriff Jeff Neves is still 10 months away, the race heats up this week during a forum in Placerville where sheriff candidates will discuss how licenses to carry a concealed weapon should be issued in El Dorado County.

Since Neves announced he would not seek a third term, seven candidates have signaled their intent to run for the post.

Amador County District Attorney’s Office investigator John D’Agostini, retired El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies Larry Hennick and Ernie Hillman, Placerville Police Chief George Nielsen, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Therkildsen, retired California Bureau of Investigation Chief Bob Luca and retired California Highway Patrol Chief Stan Perez are those who have so far filed to run in the June 2010 election.

All seven candidates are expected to speak at a forum hosted by the El Dorado County Republican Central Committee on Thursday, the first time they have gotten together to speak in a public group setting, said committee member John Bailey.

Candidates will be expected to focus on their views surrounding the issuance of licenses to carry concealed weapons in El Dorado County.

“I believe this is an important issue in our county,” Ken Steers, Republican Central Committee Chair, said in a statement. “Being able to host the candidates and have them answer questions from the public will allow the community a better understanding of where each candidate stands on the issue.”

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County Supervisor Ray Nutting has been critical of recent Sheriff’s Office policy changes that have increased the requirements for concealed-weapon licenses beyond state standards.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s department shouldn’t be putting additional restrictions on the issuance of concealed-weapon licenses in a state that already has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the country, Nutting said during a phone interview on Tuesday.

Requiring applicants to submit reference letters before receiving is one way the sheriff’s office has hamstrung the issuing of concealed weapons licenses, Nutting said.

The issue is especially important to outlying areas of the county and is an effective way to prevent crime in areas that do not receive regular sheriff’s patrols, Nutting said.

“Quite frankly, if you have a society that cannot carry arms, the crooks are at an advantage,” Nutting said.

The reference letters are one way the office ensures that those who are issued concealed weapons licenses are of the “good moral character” required under California law, Sheriff’s Office Lt. Bryan Golmitz said Tuesday.

“The sheriff feels it is a necessary step at this point to identify those that have good character; those that he feels he can give a CCW,” Golmitz said. “We’re looking for that at person in good standing.”

“There’s a lot that comes along with carrying a a gun. You can either solve a problem or make a problem,” Golmitz said.

El Dorado County has issued 718 carry concealed weapons licenses, Golmitz said.

Although Nutting has drafted a resolution recommending the next sheriff issue concealed weapons licenses using the minimum requirements under state law, the decision to issue concealed weapons licenses ultimately rests with the sheriff’s department.

The resolution will be discussed by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting in Placerville on Tuesday. Nutting said he was expecting a 5-0 approval of the resolution.

But what the candidates think about the issue remains to be seen.

Thursday’s forum will be held at the Marshall Building at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds at 100 Placerville Drive. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the forum starts at 6:30 p.m. The forum will be moderated by California Assemblyman Ted Gaines.

Those who wish to submit questions for the candidates in advance of the forum should e-mail John Bailey at

The Republican Central Committee also expects to post video of the candidate’s forum online at and its Web site at