Two candidates running for Custer County Sheriff in primary - East Idaho News
East Idaho Elects

Two candidates running for Custer County Sheriff in primary

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CUSTER COUNTY — Two men are facing off in this year’s race to become the Republican nominee for Custer County’s top law enforcement job.

Republicans Joel Peterson and Levi Maydole are running for the position. Sheriff Stuart “Stu” Lumpkin is not seeking re-election and will be retiring on April 30. The Custer County Republican Central Committee is in the process of nominating someone to replace him until the end of his term in December.

To learn more about the candidate’s platform, asked the candidates to answer the same eight questions. Their unedited responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less.

The primary election is May 21.

To learn more about Peterson, visit his Facebook page.

To learn more about Maydole, visit his Facebook page.

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

Peterson: My wife Sabrina and I have lived in the Challis area since 2013. She grew up here and I grew up in Meridian. We have four adult children and two grandkids.

I have been involved in law enforcement for over 30 years. I served 22 years on the Phoenix Police Department and retired in 2013. As soon as I retired we moved back to Sabrina’s home town where her family still lives. I volunteered as a reserve for the Sheriff’s Office and then worked summers as the Marine Deputy for Custer County. I was teaching at Challis High School when an opening became available with the Sheriff’s Office. I took a full time Deputy position in 2017 and challenged the Idaho POST certification. I passed the testing and earned my Idaho POST certification.

I resigned from the Sheriff’s Office in 2022 and am currently working for a private security company.


  • Born in Salmon, Idaho – 1972 (currently 51 years old)
  • Moved to Custer County in the Summer of 1989
  • Graduated Challis High School in May of 1992
  • Joined the United States Navy in March of 1993
  • Married Challis High School sweat-heart Dawn Thomas in July of 1996
  • Served 4 years state side and overseas
  • Started on with Custer County Sheriff’s Office in Summer of 1997
  • Hired by the Custer County Sheriff as a full time Deputy Sheriff in March of 2001
  • Completed Idaho Basic Police Training Academy in March of 2002
  • Completed Basic Detective / Criminal Investigation School in March of 2009
  • Completed Idaho Law Enforcement Instructor School in July of 2012
  • Signed on as Full Time Deputy Sheriff with Lemhi County in Winter of 2019
  • Returned to service as Chief Deputy of Custer County Sheriff’s Office in February
  • of 2021

  • Resigned as Chief Deputy Sheriff in August of 2021
  • Hired on as the Custer County Emergency Manager in September of 2021
  • Years of service as an active law enforcement officer with Custer County Sheriff –
    26 years

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

Maydole: I am seeking the opportunity to help better the Custer County Sheriff’s Office and
improve the relations between our law enforcement and this great community in which I live.

Peterson: I decided to run for Sheriff because I want to rebuild the Sheriff’s Office into the best possible law enforcement office it can be. I decided on three main areas as my political platform. COMMUNITY, PROFESSIONALISM and INTEGRITY.

Community: I believe in community based policing and want our Deputies to become a resource for citizens.

Professionalism: I want to create a professional environment for Deputies and staff to improve interactions with our residents.

Integrity: I believe the Sheriff and Deputies have a duty to defend the Constitutional rights of citizens. It is vital that they act ethically and morally in their duties.

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

Peterson: In regards to the Sheriff’s Office need for immediate improvement I feel that professional leadership is the first priority. The Deputies have difficult jobs and need to know that they will get the support they need right away. Most of the deputies have two years or less experience on the job. They are still building their skills and can use encouragement and guidance.

Maydole: The County Jail is of major concern. The construction of a new jail to replace the old 1911 jail facility with all of its liabilities. As sheriff I will be actively involved with the county commissioners on this much needed county project.

The small agency law enforcement officer retention issues which plague our country. As sheriff I will again work with budget managers and commissioners to find solutions to pay issues, also utilizing incentive measures to help manage the retention rate.

Sheriff’s office and community relations issues. The last several years there has been a break-down in communications between the law enforcement and the community. As sheriff I will reopen those lines of communication and make myself available to answer questions.

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

Maydole: Regaining the community trust with their local law enforcement will be the most time
consuming and challenging. As sheriff of custer county I will dedicate myself to the time it requires to repair and improve the relations we have lost.

Peterson: The hardest long term challenge facing the Custer County Sheriff’s Office is the dangerous jail situation. The current jail is not up to modern standards and is not staffed appropriately.

I would like to work with the county commissioners to come up with a short term solution and a long term goal. I believe the commissioners have a plan to build a small jail in town but have had difficulty finding a contractor to complete the work.

In the short term I would recommend that subjects serving a sentence are moved to another facility. This would be safer for the incarcerated and the staff. I would also recommend that citations with court dates are given whenever possible. This way the subject can still go to work and support themselves rather than the county paying for their care.

For a long term goal I would ask the community to consider a jail be built outside city limits. I would ask the commissioners to begin hiring the additional deputies needed to staff the facility and have them properly trained. The new hire deputies can assist with prisoner transport when needed as well as supplementing the patrol shifts.

This has been an ongoing problem and it will take commitment and patience to get it fixed. It will not be cheaper next year or next election.

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

Peterson: The vast majority of constituents in Custer County are conservative people. They believe in the Constitution and law and order. If elected I will be a Constitutional Sheriff. I believe that Constitutional rights come before policy and mandates.

I have spoken to many people that describe themselves as liberals. I believe that I have proven to them that their rights and freedoms are just as important to me as anyone else’s. We may disagree on policy but I will protect their right to freedom of speech every day.

I plan to have an open door policy as Sheriff. I will be hosting monthly opportunities to talk face to face. Once a month I will go to a different part of the county and have “Coffee with the Sheriff.” This will be an informal conversation with residents to talk about local problems or fishing. This is part of the community based policing I believe will build better relationships with the community.

Maydole: By being a proactive, out in front of the current issues sheriff. Social media platforms, local paper sources, public meetings, public event addresses and public bulletins.

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

Maydole: Officer pay could always use more funding. Custer County works with such a small
budget, cuts are not an option, we use every bit of money we can to support our law enforcement.

Peterson: I know that there are budget constraints especially in a county reliant on PILT funding. I will still make my case to the Commissioners and try to work together to meet the budget needs. This is especially true if we want to improve the county jail.

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

Peterson: Custer County has a very small newspaper that is being operated by a single reporter. I think that the paper can be a great way to reach out to the community and presents many opportunities. I have agreed to meet with the reporter once a week in person to discuss the Sheriff’s Office and anything that is important to our citizens.

I know that many Mackay residents read the paper from Arco. I will be willing to have a similar arrangement with that paper to keep Mackay residents up to date.

Maydole: Local media consists largely in local newspapers and area FM radio. Social media platforms are the major sources of community information now days. Better relations comes from positive communications and relationship building efforts.

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

Maydole: Public information postings and candidate public interaction. Word of mouth can spread the message to the communities fast if the efforts are made. So please get to the voting polls on May 21st, 2024 and make your vote count.

Peterson: I am trying to reach as many people as possible to encourage them to vote. I have created a facebook page with campaign information. I also go door to door to introduce myself and keep people informed about events and voting dates. Hopefully we will get a large voter turnout at the polls.