Two deputies facing off in race for Teton County Sheriff
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DRIGGS — Two Teton County Sheriff deputies are facing off in this year’s race to become the Republican nominee for Teton County’s top law enforcement job.
Clinton Lemieux and Kendall D. Bowser are competing against each other in the May 19 primary. Longtime Sheriff Tony Liford is not seeking reelection.
To learn more about the candidate’s platform, EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Their unedited responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less.
More information on Lemieux can be found on his Facebook page.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Lemieux: I was born and raised in Arizona. I spent 2 years in Guatemala where I learned to speak Spanish. I came to the valley in 2009 and met my wife Paige (Wade). I knew this was where I wanted to live and raise my family. We have four kids, we enjoy participating in community events and programs. I enjoy spending time with my family and we love being outdoors.
I worked in the Teton County Jail in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for 1 year. I worked closely with the inmates, this gave me the desire to become more involved in helping people so they did not end up like those I was monitoring. That is when I decided to get into law enforcement and started working here in Teton Valley as a sheriff’s deputy. I worked here for 3 years before transferring to Madison County to obtain different experiences. After 2 years in Madison and a few inquiries of Sheriff Liford, I decided to transfer back to Teton County where I have been working for the past 3 years. I have been a patrol deputy for 8 years. I love working in our community and have enjoyed getting to know people through my service and life here. The things I most enjoy in my career are helping people in different situations, getting drugs off the streets, and helping people understand the impact their actions have on themselves and others. I care about the people and the well being of our community.
Bowser: I am married with four grown children and have three grandchildren. I was born in Blackfoot, Idaho and have many roots to the area. While I was raising my children I was involved in coaching sports like youth softball, Varisty girls soccer, with my children. My wife and I taught dance classes in the community and helped with many Junior Miss pageants, and helped with a fundraiser running a haunted a house. I enjoyed being part of my community and participated on many local boards to include education (CUEF, Clearwater united education foundation), and domestic violence (YWCA) to provide a more positive and nurturing environment for my family.
I began my law enforcement career in 1996. I worked in mid-central Idaho for over 20 years starting at the State Prison, Tribal Police and assisted other County agency by being a trainer and part-time employee for them. I was a member of a Special Operations Response Team (SWAT) for 9 years. I ran the Given Hall work camp helping rehabilitate offenders and prepare them to succeed in life by teaching them work skills, and cooping methods in Cognitive self-change. I was a member of the Clearwater County Search and Rescue for many years. I have held leadership positions for most of my career giving me experience in writing policy and procedure, developing training programs, and setting plans and objectives for the improvement of the agency for the safety of the public.
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
Bowser:I have done many great and exciting things in my life and career. As I have matured it has become much more relevant of the tremendously important things like family. My proudest accomplishment would be finding and marrying my lovely wife 35 years ago. She has stood by me and put up with running out the door to help the community in times of need sometimes in the middle of a birthday party or other event. She has helped make me who I am today.
I am also proud of graduating from one of the most intense Special Operations training known in our area and later having the privilege of earning the trust of a great team by becoming the Team Leader.
I worked at the Given hall work camp which was rewarding in teaching offenders new work skills and help them be better prepared to succeed after being released. I had many see me and thank me for the time, help, and efforts I put in to help them succeed in life after being incarcerated.
I am proud I have been able to bring in over $20,000 in grant funding to help our community be a wonderful and safe place to live.
Lemieux: While working in Madison County, I was able to be a member of the SWAT Team, Mounted Patrol, and part of narcotic investigations.
Throughout my career, I have been able to work with many great teams and have received various commendations due to our efforts.
I have the support of my family, coworkers, and many in the community.
Briefly explain your political platform, and/or legislative goals if you are elected to office.
Lemieux: As Sheriff I plan to use a commonsense approach in law enforcement. Even though people make mistakes they should be treated with respect and dignity, because their mistakes do not have to define them. I try to treat people fairly in all my interactions, while still upholding the law. My vision for the Sheriff’s Office is to continue to strive for excellence while encouraging the community to help in this effort through various programs. I want Teton Valley to always be an amazing and safe place as we work, play and raise our families.
Bowser: My Goal is to develop a partnership between Teton County citizens and the Teton County Sheriff’s Office staff. This partnership will seek to develop a program that focuses on community policing. I will seek to engage members of the community in becoming shareholders to improve our community through joint efforts. This will be accomplished through open communication and will allow members of our community to address their concerns of public safety and develop trust in the Sheriff’s Office.
I will seek to build and improve relationships with community leaders and other elected officials in order to identify and solve public safety concerns. My goal will be to partner with our community leaders to share information, ideas and other resources.
Fiscal responsibility and planning is another part of goals. I will see to put in place a strategic development plan with the goal of ensuring the Sheriff’s Office is equipped to respond to community needs and growth. This can be accomplished by communication and combining fiscal resources with partners to more effectively address our community needs. I will seek other forms of funding through grant opportunities and management.
What are the greatest challenges facing your county?
Bowser: One of the greatest problems in Teton County is the traffic. We are a small rural county and have a large amount of traffic going through our area to work in Jackson Wy. Our roads are not designed for the amount of traffic we now have and we have many accidents in our county. Domestic violence is always a challenge to law enforcement as it is still highly under-reported.
Lemieux: At the current moment having a tourist-based economy, we will take a hit with the lack of tourism projected for this summer. So I would like to be especially mindful of the use of taxpayers’ money, as we budget for the future.
Our county has also seen an increase in drug and DUI arrests as well as calls for service due to growth. All this while having a minimal number of personnel.
How is your experience better suited to dealing with these unique challenges than you competitor(s)?
Lemieux: Working with others in the office I have been able to talk with them on a regular basis, this has given me an understanding of what it will take to help keep our great staff here. By retaining the personnel we have my hope is this will help keep our budget where it needs to be, by cutting out the cost of hiring and training new employees.
I will continue to be an advocate for proactive policing and to implement this style in the office. I will work with neighboring agencies to target criminals bringing drugs into our valley. Through grants and cooperation through other agencies, I plan to have the necessary personnel to enforce the laws in Teton County and keep it a great place to live.
Bowser: I have already been working to educate the community on traffic safety issues. I obtained a $17,000.00 grant for education on impaired driving, distracted driving and driving safety concerns to better inform the community of its dangers. I have had extensive training in domestic violence and served on a sexual response team which incorporated many other community agencies to have a victim-oriented response. You must work with other agencies to truly help domestic violence victims and I have already been working with these other great agencies.
My 24 years in law enforcement has given me lots of experience to be able to address these issues along with my years of training.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?
Bowser: I have already been working with other elected officials on community safety concerns and how to improve in keeping our community safe. It doesn’t matter where a suggestion or method of keeping our community safe comes from, it is the ability to work together on that common goal. I will seek to keep and improve open communication with other elected officials and the community for public safety.
Lemieux: I will continue to do what I have always done as a deputy; treating people fairly and with respect regardless of political views. I will listen to their concerns and take action to make the community safer.
How do you plan to improve relationships with other elected officials in your county and with state legislative officials?
Lemieux: I think it is important to understand what we expect from each other and what our goals are and how we can help each other achieve those goals. We need to remember that we all are elected officials and we work for the people.
Bowser:I have been attending City Council Meeting for the cities in our community to hear the concerns and establish a working relationship with them. I will have open and honest communication with other elected officials. I will provide factual statistics about community safety in each City of our county and address concerns from both citizens and community leaders. I have the ability to work with others to make the necessary improvements to protect our communities.
What are your views regarding the role of the media in covering your county? How can you best work with local reporters to ensure coverage of the issues?
Bowser: The media is a great resource in getting needed information out to our community. I currently update our media partners with information that affects our community and will continue to partner with them in education articles and emergencies to get the correct and most accurate information out to the public. In today’s world, there are many great ways to pass along information quickly. I will work with our local media to see what ways are best for them to get needed information out to the public. I will continue to write articles for our local newspaper to educate our community on changes and upcoming concerns for their safety as well as invite media to events.
Lemieux: I believe in being open and honest with the media and hold them to the same standard. I believe the media is a valuable asset to members of the community in keeping people informed and safe.