Four vie to serve as interim Columbia County sheriff
Four men with law enforcement backgrounds are vying to get the nod from the Columbia County Board of Commissioners to take over temporary management of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office on June 1, when current Sheriff Jeff Dickerson is expected to retire.
The men — Dave Brown of Scappoose, Jim Gibson of Clatskanie, Anthony Miltich of Scappoose, and Brian Pixley of Scappoose — appeared in front of the county commissioners Wednesday, May 16, each making his case for why he should be tapped for the job.
Applicants Brown and Miltich at times made sweeping statements about how they would effectuate change the Sheriff's Office, though the appointment would only be for a seven-month period.
No decision was made following the applicants' five-minute timed statements. County commissioners met later Wednesday in a closed executive session, citing personnel reasons, to continue deliberations about next steps. They are expected to meet again this Monday, May 21, at 3 p.m.
Commissioner Henry Heimuller after the meeting said the process for picking the interim sheriff is unclear.
"I think we've got a ways to go before we make that decision," Heimuller said. "We don't have all the details yet."
Dickerson has been unabashed in his support for Pixley, who currently heads the enforcement division at the Sheriff's Office.
"That's my recommendation," Dickerson said earlier in the week. "He's better prepared to be sheriff than I was, and he wants it."
Dickerson said it has been customary in Oregon, when a seated sheriff leaves office prior to the end of an elected term, for the appointment to follow the departing sheriff's recommendation.
Voters will have an opportunity in the November election to choose a permanent sheriff, who would take office after the first of the year. The elected sheriff would serve a four-year term.
Though the county is requiring applicants to have current certification from the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, two applicants — Brown and Gibson — are not currently certified.
Brown notes in his application that his certification has lapsed as it's been more than 90 days since he was laid off from the Sheriff's Office in December, and that it could easily be reactivated.
State law calls for anyone assuming the office of sheriff to have requisite certifications within a year of taking office.
A Thursday, April 26, email from Dickerson intended only for Sheriff's Office staff that stated his intention to retire by June 1 was leaked to the public ahead of a formal announcement.
Dickerson later confirmed his intent to retire.
"I believe that now is the right time to retire for me and for my family who have stood beside me all these years with their love, prayers and support," reads a statement from Dickerson, in part.
Correction: The print version of this story mischaracterized Gibson's statements. He did not suggest changes at the Sheriff's Office during his five-minute statement. Gibson said he is focused on the interim role and would serve as a second set of eyes on Sheriff's Office operations. The Spotlight regrets the error.