Mark Lamb may have had an R after his name on the campaign trail, but he does not expect his tenure as Pinal County sheriff to be a replica of Paul Babeu’s.
Lamb, 43, defeated Democrat Kaye Dickson in a tough contest. Unofficial numbers from Tuesday’s General Election gave him 58 percent of the vote.
“We were confident when we went into it,” he said of election night. “But it’s like a jury trial; you never know what’s going to happen.”
Lamb wants to boost morale in the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. That includes better pay, but is not limited to that.
“When people leave a job, 75 percent leave because of management,” he said. “We’ve got to create a good work environment.”
Lamb also wants to smooth feathers that were more than ruffled in Babeu’s battle with the county’s Board of Supervisors. Babeu was so upset with budget decisions he sought out candidates to endorse against some of the sitting members.
Some supervisors were at the election party with Lamb to watch results.
“They’re very excited. They see what we would like to fix,” Lamb said. “I don’t anticipate having issues with the board.”
Babeu has been arguably the second most-known sheriff in Arizona because of his tough talk on border issues. Lamb wants to take a different approach.
“I want to focus on Pinal County,” he said. “If it doesn’t benefit Pinal County, I don’t need to be on the news. If Fox [News] calls, what are they going to do for me?”
Lamb said he does not want to give the county a black eye and scare off possible new businesses or residents with over-emphasis on drugs and smuggling crimes in interviews and public statements. It is an echo of his statement during the campaign: “We need to be unpredictable for the cartels without broadcasting our tactics for political gain.”
While Lamb eschews much of Babeu’s style as sheriff, he has welcomed outreach from his fellow Republican as the transition period begins.
“I’ve been texting with him daily,” Lamb said. “They’re setting up an office for us at the sheriff’s office. He wants to help in the transition.”
As for Dickson, Lamb was impressed with her effort in a Republican-heavy county.
“Everywhere we went, we saw her getting support. Kaye worked very hard,” Lamb said. “We had to work hard to keep pace.”
From his own supporters, Lamb discovered there was a variety of reasons they voted for him but a common theme.
“They told me, ‘You stand for what I believe.’ I just want to get back to the basics,” he said.
Lamb will take the oath of office in January.