Oakley, Vogel Face Off For Round 2

As a means to give Door County voters more in depth information on the two candidates for Door County Sheriff – incumbent Terry Vogel, and challenger Will Oakley – the Pulse asked each candidate three questions on hot-button 2010 election issues. Vogel and Oakley will face off for the second time (first in 2006) on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

Terry Vogel has served as Door County Sheriff since 2003 and worked for the department for 34 years. Oakley works as a road deputy for the Door County Sheriff’s Department, and has worked for the department for 20 years.

Terry Vogel, two-term Door County Sheriff.

What is your stance on allowing licensed gun owners to carry or maintain concealed weapons?

Vogel: I’m Ok with the existing legislation on carrying concealed weapons. I had some concerns when (state legislators) came out with proposed legislation a few years ago, with the way they were enacting it. That legislation took away a lot of powers from law enforcement. There can be some advantages as long as people are trained and carry it properly, such as homeowners being victimized by an intruder or people who are vulnerable in certain situations or areas. There is peace of mind for some people in having a weapon.

Oakley: The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Clearly it is not a choice, but a right that every citizen has. The question becomes how to protect our rights while keeping the community safe. As Sheriff, I will not write the laws – I will enforce them.

What is your stance on the Alternative Sentencing under consideration by the Door County Circuit Court judges?

Vogel: If the judges feel that these other programs are a benefit to the community, I owe it to people to look into that. Winnebago County is the one these programs are being mirrored after, and I think ultimately the county will go in that direction. People need programs to get out of cycles they’re in.

If a judge imposes punishment, it’s not the Sheriff Department’s job to change that. It’s my responsibility while someone is in jail, to make sure they are safe. The Sheriff should have input on looking at the different programs out there, as should others – Alcohol and Other Drug Administration, the Community Parole officers, it’s not just a case of the Sheriff deciding or a judge deciding.

Oakley: I am in full support of the judges and their goal of implementing an alternative sentencing for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) offenses. As far back as 2003 the county was already looking into alternatives, however without an electronic monitoring program, it did not move forward. State statutes clearly state that it is the sheriff who determines what “jail” is. If the judge sentences someone to six months in jail, the sheriff can decide if it is six months within the confines of the actual jail itself, or at home on a monitor, or a combination. As sheriff I will work closely with the judges and give them access to electronic monitors.

Will Oakley is challenging Vogel for the second time.

The Winnebago County model, Safe Streets Treatment Options Program (SSTOP), that Judge Diltz and Judge Ehlers are looking into, has been a tremendous success. After four years, recidivism rates among those who successfully completed the program dropped to 9.7 percent from the previous 40 percent. This was done with cost savings for the county. I feel it would be doing a disservice to the community not to take advantage of such a tremendous program.

Besides Concealed Carry and Alternative Sentencing, what is a major issue or concern you would address if elected Door County Sheriff?

Vogel: Law enforcement’s main responsibility is public safety. In tough economic times, we have to look at acquiring money through grants, donations, partnerships with other agencies, such as joint training with the Sturgeon Bay Police Department, and partnering with them on such things as the joint dive team and SWAT team.

When I worked on the development of [an educational, anti-underage drinking] DVD two years ago, we sent it to the parents of every high school student in Door County. Last year it was sent to incoming freshmen, and I hope to do that again this year, but it is a case of funding. Parents told me it was helpful to sit down with their kids and watch it.

Drugs and alcohol always create a big focus on what we do. Drugs to me, is where a lot of the crime comes from, so if we can keep drugs out, we keep our streets safe.

Oakley: I see many areas where our most valuable resource, personnel, are not being used wisely. The antiquated work release program being used in the jail is the most labor-intensive duty for deputies working in the jail. Inmates are permitted to move throughout the county unsupervised while on work release. Some inmates have been arrested while on work release, some for drunk driving.

When we have technology in the form of electronic monitoring with GPS (known as “the bracelet”) and alcohol detection available, it is fiscally irresponsible to waste tax dollars on a broken program. Although work release inmates may travel anywhere in Door County while out of jail, they are only permitted to see their families for a half hour per week, through glass. It takes approximately five deputies at $100,000 each, to fill a single post in the jail. I will put these deputies in the community to keep it safer instead of tied-up in the jail with non-violent community members.

It cost $17 million to build the jail in 2005 and approximately $8 million to staff it since. Each year the current administration returns approximately $400,000 to the county. The community keeps asking for additional police coverage in the north and paramedic service in the south.

For three years in the mid-1990s, I worked as the Northern Coalition Deputy. These communities paid for this service, in addition to taxes already paid to the county for Sheriff Department coverage. No community should have to pay more than another for adequate police coverage. While the current administration has returned $1.6 million in the past four years, my taxes have not been lowered – have yours?