JCSEA reacts to top 3 candidates for JACO sheriff

The six candidates for Jackson County Sheriff has been narrowed down to three.

The position was left vacant in December by Corey Falls.

On Monday, a community panel sat down and interviewed each of the six men.

Then after nearly an hour of conversation, the panel chose the top three to recommend to commissioners – Captain Nate Sickler, Captain Dan Penland, and Former Sheriff Mike Winters.

“It was a long day,” Racial Equity Coalition member Amanda Singbans said.

Hour upon hours were filled with important interviews and deliberations for the future of Jackson County.

Monday afternoon, a community panel chose the top three candidates to be considered for the sheriff’s post.

Those three – Captain Nate Sickler, Captain Dan Penland, and Former Sheriff Mike Winters.

“Based on our panel there was definitely a diversity in representation and yet we still managed to amicably come to some sort of consensus and so just sort of for the proof that community can come together and discuss the potential options for moving forward,” Singbans said.

The panel reviewed the education and experience of each candidate.

They also took into consideration several factors.

“How many different hats the sheriff really has to wear of working within the community, rural patrol, how they interact with other departments… so really just a broad spectrum,” District Attorney Beth Heckert said.

When compared, three rose to the top.

The panel liked Captain Nate Sickler – the current interim sheriff – for his enthusiasm for the position and interest in transparency.

Captain Dan Penland was tagged as a great collaborator.

The one concern – his transition from the jail, where he’s the head of the Corrections Bureau.

And the panel appreciates Former Sheriff Mike Winters’ familiarity with the position, but has concern about his lack of communication in the past.

“Hopefully he can bring in or continue some of the progressive training that’s underway right now with the falls administration and that he will learn from past experiences and take into accountability the things we find really important,” Singbans said.

The panel’s decision left the president of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Employees Association with mixed feelings.

“We’re uneasy and we’re nervous on who that may be, but we hope to move forward in a positive way, and we hope to move forward with someone that is willing and has shown a history of working well with us, managing finances well, and managing finances in a way that they’re being responsible with the public’s money,” Noah Strohmeyer said.

At this point, the association isn’t officially supporting anyone.

Jackson County Commissioners will now interview the top three, then make their final decision.

While it’s likely they will choose from the panel’s recommendations, they are not obligated to and could vote their conscience.

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