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Two candidates face off in Power County Sheriff’s race

East Idaho Elects

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Max Sprague and Josh Campbell are running for sheriff in Power County. | Coutery photos

AMERICAN FALLS – Democrat Max Sprague is facing off against Republican Joshua Campbell in the race for Power County Sheriff.

Sprague is currently the chief deputy for Sheriff Jim Jeffries, who is retiring after serving four terms. Campbell is a captain for the American Falls Police Department. sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Their unedited responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less.

Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.

Sprague: My legal name is Russell M. Sprague, but everyone knows me as Max. I’m a lifelong resident of Power County. I have two children and four grandchildren. My Father, Howard Sprague, retired as sheriff after 28 years in 2004 and passed away in 2006. My Mother, Jeanie Sprague, is still very active and loves to spend time with her family.

I started my career with Power County as a reserve officer in 1995 when I obtained my level one certification and graduated from Idaho State University’s law enforcement program. After serving as a magistrate and district bailiff, I became a probation officer. I was coordinator over the Power County Drug Court for three years.

In 2005, I became the detective for the Power County Sheriff’s Office. I was then promoted to chief deputy in 2016, and along with my duties as chief deputy, I remain active in most criminal investigations for our office.

During my time in the Power County Sheriff’s Office I have obtained the following certifications: (2006) Patrol Certification (2016) Intermediate / Advanced / Master Peace Officer Certifications (2017) Certified Death Investigator through The American Board Medicolegal Death Investigators.

I have been part of this office since I was a small child. I have been honored to walk in my father’s footsteps, and to have been taught by the best in the field. If it were not for them, I could not continue on this road they have all worked hard to create.

Campbell: I was born and raised in American Falls. I graduated from American Falls High School and was student body president. I started my law enforcement career as a reserve officer during my senior year of high school.

I put myself through the law enforcement program at Idaho State University, where I made the Dean’s List. I was hired by American Falls and became a DARE Officer. I also helped create the first school resource officer program.

I obtained donations and purchased the only DARE Car in American Falls.

I received several commendations for bravery and leadership from American Falls before leaving and joining the Idaho State Police.

While with the Idaho State Police I received an award for leadership as well. I was promoted to the rank of corporal and was an accident deconstructionist.

I returned to American Falls Police as a Detective Sergeant and was later promoted to lieutenant and am now the captain of the police department. Thus, I have worked with and am familiar with budgets.

I have numerous levels of certification through Idaho Peace Officers Standards and Training.

I have been a Field Training Officer for over 20 years.

I coached football for several years, served on the Power of Pride booster club for three years, and am an avid supporter of student-athletes.

What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?

Sprague: My proudest accomplishments in my life are my family, and knowing I have helped Power County become a safer place for our families through the work of our office and its employees.

Campbell: My son is currently a sergeant with the Idaho National Guard, Field Artillery Division. He is working on completing his bachelor’s degree in Biology with the Idaho State University. He is a very caring, giving, selfless person.

My daughter is and always has been a helper. She currently works in a counseling office as she is putting herself through college. She is currently attending ISU and is working toward becoming a paralegal. She is everyone’s “go-to” person for help.

I believe people know they can trust what I say and count on me for help.

Another accomplishment is being selected for and completing training with the Idaho 
State Police. It was a very challenging 13 weeks and those who have gone through it know what I’m talking about.

I am also very proud of being promoted to the rank of captain with the American Falls Police Department.

I also take pride in the fact that people will come by the house, stop me and talk with me at the store or restaurant to voice concerns they have within our community.

Why are you a member of the Republican/Democrat/Independent/Other party?

Sprague: I would rather not be a member of either. However, because I am the chief deputy for the Sheriff’s Office, I was required to register with the democrat party. I align myself in the middle and I think both parties make good and bad points. I see myself more on the Republican side when it comes to how the county’s money should be spent. I find myself on the liberal side of saying we have to find new solutions to some of our problems because what we are doing is not working or is doing more damage than good.

Campbell: By nature, I am more conservative in my beliefs and values. However, as an elected official, I feel the office of sheriff should not be politicized and the election should be based on the qualifications of the individual running, and not his political choice. As sheriff, you are obligated to give fair, impartial, and unbiased assistance regardless of political views.

Briefly explain your political platform.

Sprague: I’m not sure if this is a political platform or not, but I believe we must treat everyone we encounter with respect and dignity. I believe we must fight for our victims by doing thorough and exhaustive investigations and in treating those in our custody legally and respectfully. Good judgment and common sense must always be used when enforcing the law and we must patrol our communities to provide citizens with a better quality of life.

Campbell: The issues that I will attempt to address first are the current opioid issues affecting most areas in the U.S. and Power County. There are juvenile crimes that are increasing. Drug usage, alcohol abuse, sexting, malicious injuries, and various other crimes are associated.

Given the finite tax base in Power County, the budget will be something to look at. I will be evaluating agency efficiencies in all departments to ensure the citizens get their money’s worth.
I will be looking to improve manpower as well as establishing a K-9 program in Power County.

What are the greatest challenges facing your county?

Sprague: For law enforcement, it would be the use of illegal drugs and prescription drugs in adults and youth. We must never give up trying to give our youth the best chance possible to grow up in a safe home and community.

Campbell: I feel some of the challenges facing Power County are the drug problems, including the abuse of prescription drugs and opioids. Interstate 86 is part of the drug trafficking corridor and I know there are a lot of drugs transported through our area that end up in our schools and to our children. Thus, I feel a K-9 program would help immensely in the detection and apprehension of drug dealers and traffickers, helping to keep the drugs away from our most prized resource, our children.

I feel that manpower is a concern that needs to be looked at. Power County is a large county and I want to ensure there are enough deputies to provide proper coverage for all areas of the county. Of course, this is determined by the budget. As sheriff, I will need to be as frugal as I can, while still maintaining a high quality of service to our community.

I would like to utilize area resources and provide the most updated and relevant training I can possibly get to my deputies, across all departments. I know surrounding agencies have specifically trained officers that I would like to utilize to the benefit of our community.

How is your party’s ideology better suited to dealing with these unique challenges than those of your competitor?

Sprague: I don’t think it’s a party that is addressing it. I see us as communities, concerned citizens, commissioners, judges, prosecutors, schools and the many others who are thinking outside the box to address this issue and the bigger issues usually associated with drug use in Power County. To me, it’s seeing us with a problem and all of us playing a role in addressing it.

Campbell: For the past 30 years, I have been representing the people of American Falls and Power County to the best of my ability. I feel my training and experience make me uniquely qualified to become the next Power County Sheriff.

I have done the shift work — nights, holidays, and weekends with the city, county, and state police.

I am currently in good standing with each agency and feel I am able to improve working relationships with surrounding agencies, regardless of political affiliation.

How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?

Sprague: If the citizens of Power County elect me as sheriff, I will be a sheriff for all of them, treating each citizen with dignity and respect while we are performing any of our duties.

I don’t think political views belong in law enforcement. We are guided by what the facts are telling us, not some opinion. Our standard always has been and always will be to conduct ourselves to the prosecutor in a way that will meet the standard of “belief beyond a reasonable doubt.” I firmly believe this should be the standard. We reach that standard through what the facts tell us.

Campbell: I have always had an open-door policy for the people and will continue to do so as Power County sheriff, regardless of differing views or opinions. I will be a working sheriff and will be visible in the public so they can stop me and talk about current issues.

I have and will continue to give aid to whoever is needing it, without reservation, and without regard to their political stances or views.

What trait, attribute, or experience do you possess that best qualifies you to manage public employees and handle public funding?

Sprague: The office of County sheriff operates under more mandates by the state than others in our state. What we do and why we do it is ever-changing as it is driven by legislative changes (the law) and litigation (the lawsuits). These apply mainly to our Civil Process department, patrol, and most often, our jail. I am well versed and experienced with this and will be able to take over seamlessly in the future.

The second part is that every decision that is made by the sheriff directly impacts another individual or department of the office. It is vital to know the workings and details of each part of the sheriff’s office to make good decisions. I have spent the last 16 years learning our Jail and budgets. Then the last five years learning patrol, dispatch, driver’s license, civil, courthouse security & bailiff and search and rescue. I feel confident that I will be able to lead the sheriff’s office and our employees into the future.

I want to be sheriff not because of some status symbol or to be sheriff for four years then leave. I believe in myself and my abilities to lead the office well into the future. I understand Power County is a great county and all its citizens and communities are important. I have an overwhelming desire to protect and help all those who reside within.

Campbell: I have worked in a supervisory role for the past 20 years and have managed personnel and expenditures. I help Chief Wilkinson with the police department budget, managing training, equipment, and expenditures. I feel I can continue this with the sheriff’s office budget and will constantly be evaluating expenses to ensure the citizens receive the best benefit.

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?

Sprague: It is important to keep open and transparent the relationship with the media. Having the media is very important and can help the citizens of Power County by helping us inform them. To know what and how something happened or to alert our citizens to a danger or threat if one arose.

There are times when information from us will be limited, but understanding why it’s limited sure helps people understand. I don’t want there to ever be bad press about the sheriff’s office, but it would be my responsibility to come forward to account for what has or has not happened, to tell the truth to the citizens of Power County.

I think people deal better with what has happened when they are just given the truth and facts of what’s going on. In the end, the sheriff must hold his employees accountable and I believe the media is one way to hold the sheriff accountable.

Campbell: As a Trooper with Idaho State Police, we had media ride-a-longs. I have given several interviews on delicate topics, such as fatal crashes and currently have a good working relationship with our local paper. I believe it is very important for law enforcement and the media to work together to ensure transparency and that the people have the current, accurate information. I am an easy-going person and feel there will be no issues in working with the media.