Tooele County’s only candidates for sheriff faced each other in a public question and answer session Thursday night on the stage at Excelsior Academy in Erda.
Over 300 people heard Dean Adams and Paul Wimmer respond to questions that had been submitted either prior by social media to party leaders or turned in at the start of the meeting.
Adams and Wimmer, both Republicans, are the only candidates running for county sheriff. Whichever one wins the Republican primary in June will be the next sheriff, unless a write-in candidate registers with the county clerk.
Adams opened the debate by discussing his tenure in law enforcement and the military.
Adams, who served in the U.S Marine Corps, has worked for and is retired from both the Salt Lake and Tooele County Sheriff Offices. He currently works for the Utah Department of Corrections as an Adult Probation and Parole Officer in Tooele County.
Adams also stressed his integrity and diplomacy as essential skills for a sheriff.
“The law itself is black and white,” Adams said. “The thoughts that we have should be a side note. … I have the integrity, devotion, diplomacy, and ethics that are needed in a sheriff.”
Adams said he would restore the “trust of the citizens that once was.”
“The judgments, the lawsuits, the deaths, need to stop,” he said.
Wimmer talked about his experience working his way up through every position in the Tooele City Police Department to eventually become the assistant chief before he decided to run for sheriff in 2014.
“Skills come from experience and formal education, not tenure,” Wimmer said. “Three years ago, citizens understood the difference between experience and tenure, and they elected the least tenured candidate that had the most leadership experience. I have worked hard the last three years to prove to those that placed their trust in me that the experience and education I bring is absolutely necessary to the changes we have made.”
Wimmer defended himself against a claim that 69 officers have left the sheriff’s department since he became sheriff.
The actual number is 55, according to Wimmer.
“In the three years prior to me becoming sheriff the department lost 64 employees,” he said. “We are not facing an out of the ordinary turnover for a law enforcement agency.”
All law enforcement agencies, especially small and rural ones, are losing employees to “wage wars” with larger agencies, according to Wimmer.
Adams said that with better “diplomacy” in working with officers, he would build the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office into a department that would attract and retain employees.
The entire question and answer event was broadcast live on Facebook and is available on the Tooele County Republican Party Facebook page.
The primary election will be June 26. Voters must be registered as affiliated with the Republican Party to vote in the Republican primary.
Voters may check their registration status, including party affiliation, at https://vote.utah.gov.