Custom Search

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chipp Bailey: Best Choice For Charlotte-Meck. Sheriff In 2010: Bi-Partisanship

For Mecklenburg Sheriff: Chipp Bailey

Bailey vs. Hailey has the ring of an energetic, powerhouse match-up. But the race between Chipp Bailey and Christopher Hailey for Mecklenburg County sheriff has been a low-key affair. Many people might not know there's a contest.

But there is, and it's an important one. The sheriff oversees 1,400 employees, 2,500 inmates and three jails. The office also provides courthouse security and serves legal papers.

In this job, effective management skills and a deep understanding of criminal justice issues are crucial. We think Bailey has more than proven himself in the job these past three years. And he had to do so while repairing community relations and political divisions that erupted from the crazy process that eventually led to his appointment in 2008. He replaced Sheriff Jim Pendergraph, who resigned in 2007 to take a job with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Pendergraph had served only one year of a four-year term.

Bailey was chief deputy at the time, and had been since 1994. He was appointed sheriff after a bizarre set of events. By state law, the sheriff's political party - in this case Democrats - got to pick Pendergraph's replacement. They picked Nick Mackey, whose qualifications and background were questioned. The selection was voided after a Democratic review panel determined there were irregularities in precinct organizing. Bailey was subsequently appointed sheriff by the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners.

Since then he has run the department well. His experience has been extremely valuable, especially as the county has cut costs because of the dire economy. Bailey has rightly focused on preserving key programs such as substance abuse counseling and education programs to help reduce the number of repeat offenders.

There are things that concern us about Bailey. He continues to believe in the efficacy of the 287(g) immigration program, which allows the sheriff's office to identify illegal immigrants in the jail. Illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes should be deported, but studies have shown that the 287(g) program far more often deports minor offenders. We don't think the program is worthwhile.

We also are disappointed in Bailey's use of a county database of his employees for campaign purposes. That's an apparent violation of state law. Bailey said he first spoke with a deputy county attorney who raised no concerns about the matter. He also said he doesn't feel he broke the law because the names of the employees had been downloaded to a disc and not taken directly from an office computer.

That sounds like parsing words, and skirting the intent of law. He did say he'd happily return the donation of anyone who felt coerced to donate. But we wish he had been more contrite and acknowledged forthrightly that he erred.

Still, Christopher Hailey has not made a compelling case for ousting the sheriff. Hailey, a former state Highway Patrol officer who currently heads Central Piedmont Community College's public safety training program, is smart, personable and qualified. But there's not much difference between him and Bailey on several issues, including the 287(g) program.

Hailey has said he'd address morale and promotions problems within the sheriff's office. He contends there is dissatisfaction among many employees. But in a county employee survey last spring, the sheriff's office received an 83 percent score for worker satisfaction. Those results were consistent with countywide ratings.

Chipp Bailey has been endorsed by several groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the Charlotte Fire Fighters Association. They were right to endorse him. He's experienced, capable and has shown he can do the job. We give him our endorsement as well.

View Larger Map

Sources: McClatchy Newspapers, News14, Youtube, Google Maps

No comments: