On Saturday Rick Amato’s talk show sponsored and moderated the San Diego’s Sheriff Debate – issues were vetted, passions flared and in the end the four candidates were heard. Those running for San Diego’s top lawman spot included, Jim Duffy, incumbent Bill Gore, Jay LaSuer and Bruce Ruff.
The back drop consisted of American flags, anti-health care signs and 300 patriotic citizens clamoring to find out what each candidate had to say regarding law enforcement.
“That was the best debate I’ve seen in 20 years,” said John Minto of Santee. “It got real lively.”
With a goal of making San Diego the safest county in the U.S., incumbent Gore had applause and skeptics because he is the sitting Sheriff, while LaSuer told the audience they were interviewing four people for the most important job in San Diego.
Right off the bat, a question was posed regarding each man’s background and whether they had been reprimanded or the center of controversy. All replied no, however Gore has been at the center attention on two national issues – Ruby Ridge, Idaho and the 9/11 Commission report. Both these events resulted in loss of civilian life.
California is set to either release or pay other states to house criminals in jail. Overcrowding is a problem and taxpayers are concerned about a glut of inmates that will be released in the next few months.
LaSuer suggested operating a tent city similar to what Sheriff Joe Arpaio has done in Arizona, who coincidently has endorsed LaSuer’s candidacy. Ruff had a different approach. “The elected officials have decided to let the people we worked to put away and then let the out early, that’s wrong.”
Eventually the talk steered to illegal immigration and if San Diego would be a sanctuary city. “I took an oath to uphold the law of the Constitution- we need to enforce all the laws,” Duffy said. He looked to the federal government’s 287g rule and insisted San Diego needed to take advantage of that tool in order to close the illegal immigration problem the county faces.
Ruff disagreed a bit and said this was a federal government issue and they needed to get it right. Gore agreed and stated his administration has been relying on the federal government to do their job.
“We are not a sanctuary city, we’ve used $23 million in federal tax dollars to address these crimes in the past two years,” Gore said. However Ruff shot back. “Who the hell do you think pays the taxes? It’s your money whether you get it from the state or the federal government it’s your tax money.”
Not one to stay on the sidelines for long LaSuer implied that the panelist had way too much caffeine. “Look, when you pick and choose which laws you are going to enforce, you’ve lost your moral compass,” he calmly said. “We are a sanctuary city, period.”
The debate steered to the 9/11 terrorist attack, again the candidates were very passionate.
Gore starting things off by explaining San Diego employs a Liaison Officer to work on both a local and national level. “I’m very proud of what we do in San Diego County on all levels.”
Ruff saw things differently. “I’ll tell you straight up…We missed the 9/11 terrorists that flew into the Pentagon, we had an informant in the house and we missed them,” he said. “We are in trouble and someone at this table is responsible for that.”
Responding to the accusation, Gore explained his FBI department was only notified one month in advance and points to the report stating that this was a missed opportunity.
Using the 9/11 Commission report as a guide LaSuer said, “We failed. We could fill this place up with excuses. When the Exxon Valdez ran a ground the captian said he fell asleep. I’m sorry captain you’re in charge.”
“Gore it happened on your watch. It may have been a mistake I don’t know. It could have been arrogance. But it occurred and thousands of people died who were Americans, it may have been a mistake,” LaSuer explains.
“But there was a LRAD (military arsenal used to target terrorists) out at the town halls, that was a mistake and those were American people. You had a weapon pointed at those people and they didn’t even know it and that was another poor choice.”
As the sun drew nearer to the Pacific Ocean, the temperatures began to drop in El Cajon. The last shootout would take the candidate’s to the concealed weapons law in California.
“Do you support a concealed weapon permit or not?”
Ruff, yes. Duffy, yes. Gore explained it wasn’t that easy. “California has laws the Sheriff must comply with and this is a shall not issue state.” The crowd booed. “It’s a shall not state unless there is cause.”
A debate ensued.
LaSuer claimed it’s up to the Sheriff to determine what is good cause and ‘yes’ self protection is a good cause,” the crowd erupted with applause.
Duffy, who was grinning, took it one step further. “Gore you got it wrong, penal code 12025 states a Sheriff MAY issue a permit.”
The entire debate can be heard on via pod cast on amatotalk.com
For more stories; www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner