Paul Babeu, Republican candidate for Pinal County sheriff, publicly questioned the hiring of an additional media staffer and the promotion of another key political ally of the current sheriff.

Meanwhile, the Pinal County Supervisors have placed a hiring freeze and have implemented budget saving measures, yet the Sheriff has made questionable personnel actions which benefit his political campaign.

“When Pinal County is struggling financially and we lack adequate deputies, how can the sheriff hire additional media staff and promote his best friend?” Babeu said. “The current sheriff’s priorities are wrong and his decisions appear to be motivated more by politics, than what is good for the public.”

Mike Minter was promoted from public information officer to the position of public information director. An additional public information officer was hired and has been doing the bulk of media relations.

“The economy and housing market slowed, yet the Sheriff’s re-election is just gearing up and it is certainly no secret as to who is running his campaign,” Babeu said. “The sheriff’s registered campaign address is at his right hand man, Mike Minter’s house. Promotions and staffing in law enforcement should be based on what you know, not who you know. These actions by Sheriff Vasquez further undermine the public’s trust in our county government, when it is already at an all time low.”

Babeu added that it’s sad to see the sheriff focus more on the next campaign, rather than hiring more deputies.

“I live in Johnson Ranch, which is the largest patrol region for Pinal County with 80,000 residents, yet the sheriff has only 37 sworn officers (25 of whom are deputies),” he said. “Compare next to city police departments such as Coolidge with 38 sworn officers and 12,000 citizens or the city of Maricopa with 34,000 citizens and 54 current sworn and continue to hire towards 70 total. As the next Sheriff, I will focus on reducing emergency response time, not finding new ways to get more headlines for the sheriff or my campaign. More deputies should be patrolling our neighborhoods, responding to emergencies a little faster and keep our communities safer, rather than hiring more media staff.”

Babeu also said he believes the Sheriff’s Office is far too political.

“I will restore professionalism in hiring, promotions and ensure an even hand in discipline of employees. Imagine a Sheriff’s Office where promotions are based on merit, education and performance, rather than being friends with the boss. This old boy network has undermined the moral of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and has corrupted the integrity of our sworn profession. I have not and will not promise jobs, promotions and favors to anyone. I will give everyone a fair chance to prove their value. I will hold all PCSO leaders accountable to the same standards of conduct as the newest deputy or detention officer,” Babeu said.

Past elections favored Democrats and now the political landscape has changed.

Florence Police Chief Bob Ingulli (Republican) narrowly lost the 2006 mid-term sheriff election with 46 percent of the vote, after Chris Vasquez (Democrat) was appointed acting sheriff.

Today, Republicans enjoy near even voter registration with Democrats and expected to gain the majority over the Democrats before the Nov. 4 general election. Also, there is high voter anger over former Pinal County Manager Stan Griffis, who pleaded guilty to six felonies, including multiple counts of fraudulent schemes, theft and income tax fraud. Griffis stole weapons from the Sheriffs Office, purchased personal vehicles and stole more than $500,000 in cash and other retirement funds. Griffis is currently serving a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence in Florence.

Two of the three Supervisors have announced their retirement and a slate of qualified Republicans have stepped forward to challenge the status quo.

Babeu graduated from the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy as the No. 1 overall police recruit and was voted by his fellow officers as the exemplary recruit for Class No. 376. Babeu has been awarded two life-saving medals in the performance of his duties as a patrol officer. His civilian education includes an associate of law enforcement, a bachelor of history/political science and master of public administration, Suma Cum Laude.

“Given the opportunity to lead the Sheriff’s Office, I will make it the best in Arizona. I will benchmark future success with faster emergency response times and increased Patrol presence,” he said. “In addition to the many good deputies and detention officers, I will actively recruit and hire the best qualified deputies and detention officers and build the most disciplined and professional agency that Pinal County citizens deserve. I will lead by setting a good example of high integrity, demand for excellence in my work and place the needs of those I serve above my own.”

Babeu added that unacceptable ethical lapses and criminal activity by appointed and elected Pinal County leaders has shaken his faith in the current leadership.

“It is time for a change,” he said. “Pinal County needs new leadership; honest, independent, accountable leadership.”

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