Voters should focus on the SLO County Sheriff’s contest above all other races in the November general election. The June primary narrowed a large, diverse field to two finalists: Ian Parkinson and Joe Cortez. Both are Republicans but they’re distinctly different.
The early favorite, Ian Parkinson, who’s a SLO City police supervisor, is tall, smooth-shaven, carefully coifed, and movie-star handsome. Inch by inch, he’s been rigorously prepped, coached, and brought along by SLO City’s economic, social, and political elite. “Reliable” is ever the establishment’s preference, so Parkinson’s their pick. Then there’s Joe Cortez, the outsider. A cheerful, mustachioed former cop with a middleweight boxer’s body, Cortez has commanded two city police departments. Criminal justice-wise, his formal education, managerial and leadership credentials, and on-the-job experience far outstrip Parkinson’s. Nonetheless, Joe’s the gatecrasher. There’s one other difference: Cortez appears to be an actual progressive.
Cortez accumulated 15 years of know-how as a top law-enforcement manager in Colorado and as Pismo Beach Chief of Police. He’s handled myriad tough personnel problems and adeptly managed many tight budgets. Plus, he has long experience working with elected boards. Among his many accomplishments, two stand out in particular: As police chief, he returned more than $1 million in tax revenue to the general fund; and he set such high standards Pismo Beach was one of only five California cities—the only one in San Luis Obispo County—to receive a top law-enforcement accreditation.