Politics begin for interim sheriff appointment | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Politics begin for interim sheriff appointment

Rob Bhatt

More than a year before El Dorado County elects its next sheriff, the political jockeying has already begun.

At least two members of the department – Capt. Ed Newman and Sgt. Larry Hennick – have expressed an interest in serving as the interim appointee after Sheriff Don McDonald retires this April.

A third possible candidate, Folsom Police Chief Hal Barker, is also interested, although he reportedly has not formally applied.

All this comes after McDonald last month recommended that the Board of Supervisors appoint Undersheriff Jim Roth to take over the department after his own retirement in April.

Roth, meanwhile, on Monday confirmed statements reported on the West Slope that he will not run in the 1998 election for a full four-year term as sheriff.

He said tension and unrest created by challenges within the department to McDonald’s recommendation is only part of the reason he will not run for the post next year.

Although Roth had considered running for the past several months, he now says he wants to fulfill his goal of leaving law enforcement after 30 years. Roth, 49, was sworn in as a reserve officer in San Jose in November 1968.

“The primary factor (for not running) is that I will have done my 30 years, and I’m looking for something else,” the undersheriff said on Wednesday.

Newman and Hennick could not be reached for comment Wednesday due to the county’s observation of Lincoln’s birthday as a holiday. Hal Barker, who lives in Camino, also could not be reached at his office in Folsom.

The county is accepting applications through next Tuesday for applicants interested in filling McDonald’s current term.

Some consider the appointment for the interim post an advantage to winning the election in 1998, because the appointee can run next year as an incumbent. County Supervisor John Upton believes this magnifies the importance of the interim appointment.

“Anything we do will tend to set the base for who will run successfully for sheriff in 1998,” Upton said Wednesday. “We have to be comfortable ourselves that we’re doing the best thing for a much longer period than just the next year and a half.”

Upton said there could be advantages and disadvantages to appointing Roth now that he has declared himself out of the 1998 election. The advantage would be that no candidate in the election would have the benefit of being an incumbent. The disadvantage is the potential dissatisfaction or tension between Roth and underlings who sought the interim appointment.

“My main concern,” Upton added, “is that over the long haul, we need to have someone in there who is a good law enforcement officer and a good administrator. That’s not always easy to find.”


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