In a rebuke, the largest law enforcement union in the county has endorsed challenger Adam Hill to take the seat of 3rd District County Supervisor Jerry Lenthall in the June 3 election.
The announcement came as a surprise to many, including Hill, because Lenthall is a former police officer and received the union's support in his first run for office.
Yet Dale Strobridge, president of the SLO Deputy Sheriffs' Association, said Lenthall's record in office disappointed members of the union.
He said that Lenthall was difficult for union members to reach--to the point of not returning phone calls and refusing to sit down for face-to-face meetings. Strobridge also said members were disappointed and caught off guard by a Lenthall motion, early in his term, to push forward a contract that the DSA opposed.
In an e-mailed response, Lenthall said he's never turned down a request for a face-to-face meeting with union leaders and is unaware of any unreturned phone calls. He noted that he has endorsements from more than a dozen law enforcement officials ranging from former Arroyo Grande Police Chief John Couch to former SLO County Sheriff Ed Williams.
"Just because I am a former police officer doesn't mean that I will rubberstamp salary and benefit increases or in any way act irresponsibly in managing
the fiscal affairs of County operations," he said.
"Apparently Mr. Hill has indicated otherwise."
"The incumbent, quite frankly, has been held accountable for his record," Strobridge said of the April 28 announcement.
After interviewing both candidates, Strobridge said they determined Hill would be better at addressing issues such as methamphetamine use in the county, gang issues, and workforce housing.
Hill said he was delighted but surprised to learn of the designation because "my opponent has a 30-year record as a police officer." Lenthall worked for the SLO Police Department.
But Hill, a Cal Poly lecturer, said he was told his attention to land use and workforce housing issues resonated with leaders of the union, made up of 270 deputy sheriffs, correctional officers, and other law enforcement employees.
Strobridge said the designation will mean a cash contribution from the DSA's political action committee as well as manpower for phone banks and other campaign efforts.
Meanwhile, both candidates continued to amass endorsements. According to their websites, here's a recent partial tally.
Lenthall is endorsed by the Republican Party of SLO County, the SLO Cattleman's PAC, U.S. Reps Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes, Supervisor Katcho Achadjian, SLO Mayor Dave Romero and City Councilmember Paul Brown, State Sen. Abel Maldonado, Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, and SLO County Tax Assessor Tom Bordonaro, among others.
Hill is endorsed by, among others, the California Faculty Association, State Superintendent of Public Schools Jack O'Connell, U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals, SLO Council Members Allen Settle, Christine Mulholland, and Andrew Carter, and former supervisors Shirley Bianchi, Peg Pinard, and Evelyn Delaney.