Fall Election 2018: Kenosha County Sheriff candidates Q&A

Voters in Kenosha County will be able to vote for sheriff in the Nov. 6 election.

While all county partisan offices are on the ballot, the sheriff’s contest between incumbent David Beth and challenger David Zoerner is the only contested race.

The pair also faced off in the 2014 Republican primary, with Beth winning with 70 percent of the vote to Zoerner’s 29 percent. This was the de facto election in 2014 as no Democrat ran for sheriff.

This time around, Zoerner is running as a Democrat, with Beth remaining the Republican candidate.

The same questionnaire was submitted by westofthei.com to each candidate by email.

Here is their biographical information, followed by their question responses:

David G. Beth — Age: 58. City. village, town where you live: Brighton. Education: Paris Elementary, Westosha Central High School, UW Parkside, Gateway Technical College, Northwestern University. Occupation: Sheriff’s Department 36 years, Sheriff currently for past 16 years, DARE Instructor 10 years. Previous elected offices: Sheriff since 2003.

David Zoerner — Age: 49. City. village, town where you live: Village of Pleasant Prairie. Education: Bachelor of Arts, UW-Parkside; Mary D. Bradford High School, Kenosha. Occupation: Sergeant, Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department. Criminal Justice Adjunct Instructor, Gateway Technical College. Previous elected offices: None.

1.) Why are you the best choice for sheriff?

Beth — Experience plays a major role in who is the best choice. Knowing your community, those who live there and being involved also plays a role as well. I have grown up in Kenosha County and attended county schools.  Growing up in western Kenosha County helps with familiarity of the needs of the community and also with knowing the people.  I am very active in coaching youth programs for decades throughout Kenosha.  I have helped at my children’s school, Brighton for 20 years.  Living in Brighton helps me stay close to western Kenosha County. I have been a part of the Sheriff’s Department since 1982.  In 1989, I brought the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program to Kenosha.  I taught Kenosha’s children for 10 years. I have worked as a deputy on patrol on all three shifts and even undercover with Naval Intelligence. I have been your Sheriff for the last 16 years.  The Sheriff’s Department and I have a great working relationship with every municipality in Kenosha County and we stand by to assist all local police agencies.  I am proud to say we have added deputies to protect all of Kenosha County.  Since I became Sheriff our department has generated $85,000,000 in Federal Revenue to offset your property taxes and fund the Sheriff’s Department.  We have obtained over $10,000,000 in grants to help better serve and protect our community and schools as well.  I have used drug dealers money to purchase equipment to protect the public and our deputies as well. I worked with the Kenosha and Twin Lakes Police Departments to create the Drug Unit, KDOG which is one of the most award winning units in the State.  I started the Traffic Interdiction Unit who’s primary job is to enforce traffic laws on Kenosha’s roads. I also started the snowmobile and ATV units to patrol our trails and parks. 16 years of experience and a great working relationship with local, State and Federal officials pays off in leading a department of over 300 employees.  Our staff is second to none in keeping our community safe and working hard every day making Kenosha a great place to raise a family.  We have been able to grow with our community and maintain our responsiveness to its needs while still only averaging less than a 1.7% increases annually since I took office in 2003.

Zoerner — I have committed my life to serving my country and my community. I have served this community for 19 years, with integrity. Never in that time have I turned my back on arresting a friend or family member. I actually had to arrest my own brother once, for a non-violent offense, but the law is the law. Sheriff Dave Beth lets his personal relationships cloud his judgment, as with the Obregon family. Sheriff Beth not only botched a manhunt for Obregon by grounding the Tactical Response Team, while he searched locations for him, with Obregon’s family and friends. He wasn’t captured and he was free to brutally attack another woman. The Sheriff also released Susan Obregon out the side door of the Kenosha County Detention Center on an ankle bracelet, against judges orders. To hide this, he had her snuck back into the jail on the day of her sentencing, to trick the judge. This deception is absolutely unacceptable by any elected official. I will always put the citizens of Kenosha County first, this is why
I am absolutely the best choice for Kenosha County Sheriff.

2.) What will be your top initiatives for this next term that will effect Western Kenosha County if you are elected sheriff?

Beth — One initiative we are working on at this moment is take home squad cars for our patrol deputies.  This will give Kenosha County an estimated 15,000 more hours of patrol time for our deputies at no additional cost to the taxpayers or the department.  It will also allow our department to call out a large number deputies at a moment’s notice in case of bad weather or a major incident if needed. We are also currently active in working with all of Kenosha’s Schools in obtaining the Wisconsin Safety Grants, creating safer schools and offering training to help protect our children and school staff. We will also look into ways to add more deputies to our roads as traffic, population and calls for service of Kenosha increases over the next few years. I have been working with local, State and Federal officials to fight the opioid crisis facing not only Kenosha, but the whole country.  We have just received a grant to assist those exiting our jail and try to get them a transition plan back into the community along with tools to fight drug dependency.

Zoerner — We need to immediately stop the wasteful spending! The Sheriff is constantly purchasing and acquiring dated equipment that is either unusable, or takes years and a tremendous amount of money to get into service. Military Boat, 4 years, still no anchor, $70,000 later. Military transport vehicle, 9,000 lbs. It can’t be used due to visibility issues and the weight prevents its use on most of our roads. The list goes on. The tax payers are on the hook! The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department is losing personnel like never before. We have had nearly 60 new hires in the past 2 years. We have lost 5 highly trained, experienced deputy sheriffs over the past year to resignations. The cost of our personnel turnover in training and equipping staff is killing us. We need to make immediate moves to retain our personnel. The Sheriff is mandating 12 hour work shifts starting in January. This will cause a further loss in personnel. By taking care of our staff, we will be able to retain our highly trained staff, save money for the tax payers and keep our citizens safe at home. More deputies on the road. The Sheriff keeps talking about $85,000,000 in federal revenue. Over
his tenure, that’s $5.3 million per year. He spent $3.3 million on overtime alone, last year. I asked him to explain how much of that was actual profit, but he refused to answer me.

3.) An ongoing issue in Western Kenosha County seems to be rashes of  vehicle break-ins and/home-garage break-ins that seem to hit one neighborhood. There’s a gap then they pop up elsewhere. What can be done by the Sheriff’s Department to address this problem?

Beth — Almost every time we have an outbreak of vehicle, or home and garage break-ins,  it deals with someone in the area having a drug addiction problem. Those involved sometimes are well known to families and friends for the drug problem, and sometimes they are not.  We as a community need to be aware of those around us.  We also need to keep an eye out not only for our property and belongings, but our neighbors as well.  Report suspicious people and happenings immediately and don’t wait until the next day to say, “this seemed odd”.  As a community we can curb these issues quicker if we are all more alert.  The Sheriff’s Department is already working hard in investigating these break-ins when they occur and our investigative unit does a great job helping to catch the offenders.  Our deputies are out every day checking those who appear suspicious in our community and stop many crimes before they even happen.  Working together we can reduce and stop many of the break-ins. We also need to work to eliminate drug abuse, which as I stated earlier is a major cause of these thefts.  Keep an eye on your children, who their friends are and where they are going.  Monitor their phones and conversations with others.  There are apps available where you as a parent can receive all the same messages your children receive.  Please remember that being a parent is a difficult job and you are not their “friend”.  Take the job seriously and you, your children and the community will greatly benefit in the future.  Get and keep your children involved in positive activates whether at school in just in the community.  Help and volunteer at your local schools and get to know the staff who work so hard to educate our children.  All of these will pay great dividends in all of our future.

Zoerner — Community involvement will be a key component in solving crime sprees such as these. Regular meetings need to be held with the citizens at the village and town halls. True leadership trickles down from the top. A more involved Sheriff – personally attending these meetings – will generate more involved deputies and community members. Our assigned village deputies and the school resource officers for the affected areas will also be attending these meetings. The information is frequently in the schools and neighborhoods. As a 4 year school resource officer of Wilmot High School, developing relationships was instrumental in solving crimes in the community. The students I worked with at Wilmot High School still call me with criminal case information and help us build cases. These are the types of long term relationships that will make Kenosha County safer. Vote Zoerner! Time for a new Dave!!!

 

 

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