Incumbent Sheriff Adam Mabey faces Eric Bates in Caribou County sheriff race - East Idaho News
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Incumbent Sheriff Adam Mabey faces Eric Bates in Caribou County sheriff race

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CARIBOU COUNTY — Caribou County Sheriff Adam Mabey is seeking re-election, and local Eric Bates is also seeking the position.

Both are competing in the primary election on May 21. To learn more about the candidates’ platforms, asked them to answer the same eight questions. Their unedited responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less. Bates did not respond to the questionnaire.

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

Mabey: I was born and raised on my family’s farm/ranch operation outside of Bancroft, Idaho. After graduating from High School, I went off to college and then started my law enforcement career. I moved back to Caribou County in 1997 and have three beautiful daughters with the late Candice Mabey. I then married my current wife Nancy and picked up six bonus children. We now have 15 ½ grandchildren.

Before returning to the Caribou County, I was a Law Enforcement Specialist in the United States Air Force, a patrolman for the City of Blackfoot, Idaho and a patrolman for the City of Lewiston, Idaho. I also served in the Idaho Army National Guard as an officer cadet before transferring back to the Air Force Reserves.

I have over 4 years of college in Justice Administration. I’m a certified Master Peace Officer and have a Management Certification through Idaho. I have over 4 decades of law enforcement experience and education and have worked in nearly every aspect of law enforcement.

Going into this election, I’ve noticed a few things. I’m the only candidate who has experience working for a Sheriff’s Office. I’m the only candidate who has experience working in and administering a detention (jail) facility. This is important because our detention facility not only houses inmates for Caribou County, but for three other counties and the State of Idaho. I’m the only candidate who has experience in marine (boat) patrol operations and search and rescue.

Why are you seeking political office? Briefly explain your political platform.

Mabey: Coming into this campaign season, I wanted my platform slogan to be “Building on Success”. We’ve accomplished so much at the Sheriff’s Office over the past 3 ½ years. A lot of the success has been due to my team and the preparation I put into becoming sheriff over the past 40 years. I stand for the State of Idaho and the Constitution of the United States. I believe the Sheriff has the responsibility to stand for the citizens and defend their Constitutional rights.

Caribou County deserves to have a Sheriff who believes in respect, honesty, ethics, and integrity, qualities I’ve brought to my Office. Because I was raised in Caribou County and have spent the past 26 years serving the citizens and visitors of this community, I know the county and I know the people. I raised my family here. Caribou County is not just a place on the map, it’s about people. Being a sheriff is not just a paycheck, it is a way of life, it is the pinnacle of my career.

I’ve worked for agencies that were much larger and had more resources, and I’ve learned that being Sheriff is not about power or authority, it’s about wanting to serve; it’s about making decisions that are unpopular and standing by those decisions (especially when you can’t comment on situations due to confidentiality).

We have a great team at the Sheriff’s Office, made up of years of experience and talent. I want to build on that success.

What areas in your county need immediate improvement? What actions will you take to address those needs?

Mabey: I’ve addressed several issues during my first term as sheriff that I believed needed improvement. I’ve addressed technological needs. I brought in approx. ½ million dollars of improvements to the dispatch center through grants and other sources, thus not needing to increase taxes.

I’ve addressed the public opinion issues that were caused due to “Defund the Police”. I’ve addressed the needs of the more rural and remote areas of the county and made sure they’re not forgotten. I’ve addressed the resources and equipment of the deputies so they can effectively protect the community and be seen. Our patrol vehicles are provided through a lease program that saves the county tens of thousands of dollars a year. I’m also using programs that save thousands of dollars a year on vehicle maintenance issues.

We’re continuing to work on developing and bringing programs and training into the county to protect our school, provide services to families and victims of domestic violence and increase the efficiency of emergency service response. We’re always looking for volunteers for our Search and Rescue organization and our reserve officer program. Anyone who wants to serve in search and rescue is encouraged to apply. Our reserve program has certification and training requirements which usually can only be filled by retired or former law enforcement officers, but we are always looking for volunteers.

What are the greatest longterm challenges facing people in your county? What is your plan to meet those challenges?

Mabey: As Caribou County continues to be “found” by people wanting to flee the issues plaguing larger cities and states, our population will continue to change. The increase prevalence of illegal drugs and the abuse of legal drugs continues to grow; therefore, we’ll have to put more resources into those areas.

Caribou County is in a unique location. We have two major state roads that run though our borders and they’re used to move drugs from drug friendly states through Idaho. One of these roads is a major pathway for national and international tourist traveling to the nation parks. The increase in vehicle travel, especially from people who don’t know how to drive in the USA, makes our roadways more dangerous. These roads also bring transient criminals through our normal quite communities. This was realized when a subject who was wanted for attempted murder was passing though and tried to shoot one of my deputies.

Plans to address these issues have already been put in place and the hard work and tenacity of the deputies have already made an impact on the safety and livability of Caribou County. I don’t micromanage my deputies and recognize that they are professionals and don’t need quotas to perform their duties.

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

Mabey: Having been in the military (serving in foreign countries) and having not only worked in Caribou County, but two communities that had diverse populations, beliefs, and political views that were very different, I have learned to be open to all points of view. I recognize there are all kinds of views in Caribou County and they each need respect and access to the Sheriff.

I like to use the printed word, TV, online and social media to communicate with my constituents. I am not a “desk” sheriff. I do not believe the sheriff needs to wait for the public to come to him. I like to be out in the community. My wife sometimes gets frustrated because I have cell phones, a home phone, and my law enforcement radios. If someone needs to get in contact with me, they can.

What parts of the county budget could use more funding? Where are places in the budget that cuts could be made?

Mabey: The two areas that continue to have the greatest impact on the Sheriff’s Office are technology and personnel. I could use more personnel (in dispatch, detention, and patrol) and higher wages. As law enforcement agencies and private industries around us continue to increase their pay, we struggle to meet these competitive wages.

Conducting thorough background investigations, including polygraph and psychological testing, becomes an ever-increasing need and these tests are not cheap. The same price increases of products at the stores that plague us in our individual lives also affect the Sheriff’s office, especially in our detention operations, so we’re very fortunate that our jail administrator has the experience and knowledge to work with me and create/maintain our budgetary needs in a fiscally responsible manner.

What is the role of local media in your community? How can county officials work to have a better relationship with the media?

Mabey: I sincerely believe that the media has an important responsibility to keep all the communities informed. Smaller communities struggle with media reporting and usually are left with monthly or weekly newspapers and a radio station if lucky. Often the larger communities get all the coverage.

I’ve been pleased that in southeast Idaho, our media outlets try very hard to include the rural communities in
their coverage. I’ve established a relationship with the media, and I provide them as much information as I can. I’ve worked for law enforcement administrators who’ve taken the stand that the media is adversarial, and the community is the one who suffers. A strong and fair media is a good checks and balance. Cooperation between local government and media can be a symbiotic relation that benefits all.

Voter turnout and participation continues to be low in Idaho. What efforts can be made to stimulate greater voter involvement in elections and government?

Mabey: I’d like to see the legislature address this issue. Without the presidential component
of the primary election, I’ve been seeing less interest in getting out to vote, even though the local elections will have the greatest impact on the public.