By Jim Allen
The Personnel, Legal and Management committee met at 11:00 a.m. on August 17, 22021. This was a Committee of the Whole meeting and all board members were present. Chair Jim Mikeworth asked County Clerk Judy Pollock to proceed with the meeting. Pollock was asked to set up the meeting to interview two candidates for the office of the Sheriff of Douglas County,
At this time Nathan Chaplin is interim Sheriff replacing Joshua Blackwell who resigned effective 7-1-21. Each candidate was to prepare an opening statement to the board which would be followed by questions regarding the open position. The candidates would not be informed of the questions in advance.
The two candidates to be interviewed were Wes Fleener and Nathan Chaplin. However, Pollock informed the board members that Wes Fleener had sent an email to her the day before stating that he would not be attending the meeting and would therefore not be present for the interview.
The board decided to proceed with the meeting in Fleener’s absence. Chaplin answered questions covering issues such as filling vacancies in the Sheriff’s office, budget requirements, and future needs of the department.
In answer to a question by Gary Luth, Chaplin stated that he would seek reelection and would like to serve the county in the Sheriff’s office for as long as the people of Douglas County supported his efforts. Dick Hein asked for Chaplin’s view of the current radio system used by the county. Chaplin said that he felt the present system needed to be improved, but that a new system likely would not be needed. Don Munson mentioned that the board would be working on a budget for the coming years and asked what the Sheriff’s needs might be. Chaplin stated that investment in people and training were the top issue especially with the changing roles of law enforcement. He also said that body cameras for each person on duty were essential.
At this time an executive session was called. After 50 minutes, the public portion of the meeting reconvened without comment.
Before the meeting closed, Chair Jim Mikeworth asked for comments or questions from the public. Scott Harris, Chairman of the Republican Central Committee, addressed the board.
I do not feel that I can effectively paraphrase his statement so with his permission, I am going to present it in full.
Harris said “Lady and Gentlemen of the board, Douglas County is fortunate to have a strong and active Republican Central Committee. In light of the county board deciding to conduct their own interviews of sheriff candidate, the Central Committee feels compelled to release a statement in reference to such.
The Democratic process is one the central committee does not take lightly. When tasked with nomination a candidate for office, we put every effort into ensuring the right candidate is ultimately appointed by the county board to fill a vacancy. Potential candidates are not only put through a rigorous interview process, but extensive background checks are conducted and references for each candidate are interviewed. No stone is let unturned and the central committee as a whole is comfortable with each candidate that is nominated.
Moreover, during the nomination process, each precinct committee person is tasked with not only reviewing all documentation associated with a candidate, but also speaking with their respective constituents. After exhaustive interviews which take hours to complete, each committee person is responsible for casting a vote for the candidate they feel best represents not only the Republican Party, but also the office in which they will serve. This vote is weighted by precinct so the voters of Douglas county are heard.
Douglas County is very fortunate the committee was presented with two very good candidates to fill the sheriff vacancy. Both Nathan Chaplin and Wes Fleener conducted themselves in a professional manner even when facing tough questions by the committee. It is the committee’s hope for the future that the county board does not set a precedent in eroding the decision set forth by the Republican Central Committee. Just because a governing body can do fomenting, doesn’t necessarily mean it should. Undermining this nomination process ins not what republicans do. Republicans stand firmly behind candidates that are nominated, just as the committee did most recently with the Douglas County Coroner in 2020.
In closing, I would like to thank the board for allowing me to speak on behalf of the Republican Central Committee. As always, the committee will remain poised and ready to serve their constituents. Respectfully, Scott Harris Chairman of the Republican Central Committee”