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Letters to the Editor

Investigation against me is ‘smoke and mirrors’

My name is Dave Fuller, and I am running for sheriff of Columbia County.

I have spent my entire 29-year career as a deputy for the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. My life’s work and top priority has always been to keep the citizens of Columbia County safe.

I am running for sheriff because I have deep concerns about the lack of leadership that is being provided by our present sheriff, Jeff Dickerson. It has been my observation that this sheriff’s approach has been to punish those who disagree with him, including the public. It is my opinon that since the loss of the past sheriff’s levy, the sheriff has looked for ways to reduce services as a way of punishing the public for not supporting the levy.

We had an effective volunteer Sheriff’s Posse organization in the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office that was invaluable to the public. The sheriff evidently decided they were no longer important to the agency and discontinued this program after he was elected. Can you imagine getting rid of a volunteer organization when you have only 10 paid deputies who were assisted consistently by the posse? Why has the sheriff eliminated the volunteer Sheriff’s Posse?

Why is the Sheriff’s Office down to three reserve deputies when it used to have approximately 20 when I was originally hired? Whey don’t we seek state and federal resources as we did in the past to enhance services to our citizens? I personally believe this is retaliation for Columbia County citizens for no supporting the past levy.

The sheriff has also ignored pursuing grant funds which have traditionally allowed the Sheriff’s Office to supplement the budget and help to meet other important needs to the citizens in this county. Our agency used to have over a $1 million in state and federal funding that is no longer being pursued. I believe his approach is completely backward at a time when resources are dwindling. We need a sheriff who will aggressively look to build partnerships and find any resources possible. After all, the goal should be to protect the public with whatever means possible.

This month I officially retired as a Columbia County Deputy to devote my time to running my campaign. When I filed earlier in the year to run for the position of sheriff, Sheriff Dickerson did everything possible to impede my political campaign and undermine my credibility. Having served the citizens of Columbia County for the past 29 years, I know my record speaks for itself and when my opponent finishes this politically driven investigation, I am confident my name will be cleared.

I am hoping Columbia County citizens will be able to look through the smoke and mirrors that is being cast by my opponent and focus on the question of how the current Sheriff’s Office is doing in providing services to the citizens. I feel we have gone backward and e need to elect a sheriff that is more concerned about the safety and wellbeing of his constituents than he is about his own political future.

We are continuing to have tough economic times and when we submitted an operational levy to the voters in 2011, the sheriff included a personal secretary for himself. I envision the citizens of Columbia County supporting a levy for road deputies, but not for a personal secretary. Per KOIN Channel 6 News, dated April 12, 2011, concerning the levy, “The sheriff warns without it, [the Sheriff’s Office] could lose the entire force within the next year and a half.” It is important for the next sheriff to build trust with Columbia County citizens rather than using scare tactics to try to pass a levy.

Finally, I am running for sheriff because the safety and wellbeing of our citizens shouldn’t be compromised because of a failed levy. It would be easy for my to walk away at this point and enjoy my retirement and not run against Sheriff Dickerson. I believe Columbia County citizens deserve better than what they have with the current administration.

If I am elected, my only agenda will be to provide the most effective and ethical Sheriff’s Office possible, as well as restoring the community’s trust and rebuilding partnerships with police, state and county agencies.

That you for allowing me this opportunity to run for sheriff.

Dave Fuller, Scappoose

[Editor’s note: The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office initiated a personnel investigation into Dave Fuller based on Fuller’s involvement in an early morning, single-car crash in April on Highway 30 that occurred between St. Helens and Rainier while he was off duty. Fuller told The Spotlight he had swerved to miss a deer, resulting in the crash. He additionally said the crash resulted in a flat tire, and that rather than leave his car abandoned on the side of the highway he called a towing company. He said the investigation stemmed from his lack of reporting the crash, which Fuller said he did not believe met the criteria for filing a report. Oregon State Police later cited him for failing to report the crash, however. In talking to The Spotlight, Fuller said there were other aspects of the investigation he was not at liberty to discuss. The Sheriff’s Office claims it was nearing conclusion on the investigation into Fuller, who had been on paid administrative leave for four months, when Fuller opted to retire. His retirement effectively terminated the personnel investigation. The criminal citation is still working its way through the courts. DS.]

Sticking with Dickerson

So, Dave Fuller wants to be our sheriff. But when he’s under an investigation from his own department, he quits and runs away? Besides what that says to me about the probable truth to whatever charges he is facing, it also tells me it is the exact opposite of the kind of individual we need in this office.

While our current sheriff has had to face budget cuts and criticism from some people head on, Mr. Fuller has the luxury of “retiring” when things get uncomfortable. That is not leadership.

I am voting to keep Jeff Dickerson as our sheriff. I know he is not afraid to face the trials and struggles of his office.

Dan Chronister, St. Helens

Dickerson’s values, dedication warrant re-election

We live in confusing and dubious times when simple political differences usually result in bitter disputes and often end in loss of friendship. Sadly, such vitriol doesn’t just end with our favored elected officials, but even spreads to those who dutifully service our communities. We’ve all seen this rear its ugly head in the state of Wisconsin when its citizens attempted to recall their governor over union rights to public employees.

But my goal in this letter is not to convince you, the reader, to make future political decisions in my favor (seriously, does anyone ever successfully convince their neighbor or friend to come over to their side, politically speaking?). Furthermore, I have no desire to trash the other side either. I am personally sick of nasty and negative campaigning and quite taken aback at how Americans now treat one another these days.

After seeing a photo recently of Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson and his three children posing in uniform, I was amazed. It wasn’t that his children, all who presently serve honorably in this nation’s military, would ask their father to don his dress uniform and appear with them in spit-polish fashion to pose for the photograph — a photograph certain to be proudly possessed as a family heirloom for generations to come. What really amazed me was that these responsible young folks and their father, Sheriff Dickerson, are still proud to serve their nation and their community, even in the face of a country lathered in such bitter divide.

I once asked the sheriff why he would leave the highest state public safety post a police officer may attain — an Oregon State trooper — to run for sheriff, a political position that brings with it unstable job security, political strife and a never-ending “to-do” list most citizens are never aware of. His answer was simple: because I live here, my friends and family live here and I want to make sure our public safety is of the highest concern.

It’s refreshing that in today’s noxious environment, Sheriff Dickerson has taught his children to “step forward and raise your hands,” “be the one who volunteers,” “be the one who enlists,” for love and passion of country and duty to community. And, most importantly, he has taught his children that there is still honor in that. Together with Sheriff Dickerson’s education, his law enforcement credentials, stellar communication skills, management experience and service to community in both public safety and in teaching young children in Sunday school, it is confusing and dubious to me how anyone could not see him as the most viable candidate and that he should certainly be re-elected.

Randy Sanders, St. Helens

Be wary of telephone scams

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is reporting a number of fraudulent telephone scams being attempted on county residents in recent weeks. One common scam in recent weeks has been the “grandparent” telephone scam.

In these types of scams, a perpetrator calls a grandparent or other relative pretending to be their grandchild/niece/nephew, etc. The caller sounds upset and says that he or she doesn’t have much time to talk. The caller might also say that they have a cold if you don’t quite recognize their voice, or they will attempt to solicit feedback from you to sound even more convincing (scam victims often report being asked, “Do you know which grandchild this is?”).

Their story generally follows a familiar line: they were traveling in another country or another state with a friend, and after a car accident or legal infraction, they are in jail and need bail money wired to a Western Union account as soon as possible for their quick release.

Sums can vary from several hundred to several thousand dollars, sometimes over the course of two or three calls. In some instances a second scammer calls back later pretending to be a law enforcement official or attorney, to confirm the story or ask for additional money. They may even claim to be an employee of a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas.

Should you be targeted in this type of scam, there are actions you can take to protect yourself. Although the supposed grandchild may plead with you not to tell their family, you should immediately reach out to parents or other relatives to verify the information you receive. In the vast majority of cases, the real relative is safely where they should be — at work, school or home.

Jeff Dickerson, Columbia County Sheriff

CHD board still seeking hospital property sale, taxpayer credit

It has been nearly two years since the people voted to end the 38 cents per $1,000 hospital tax.

More than one year has passed since the prior hospital board, county commissioners and the city of St. Helens jointly conspired behind closed doors to defraud the taxpayers in the hospital district out of millions.

The current board and their legal counsel have offered to mitigate the issue at least two times. Each time the usurper trustees (county commissioners) have adamantly refused mitigation and continue to pursue their original backroom deal to give the property on Millard Road, valued in the millions, to the city of St. Helens for free.

The current health district board and their trustees have legitimate offers on the property but are unable to finalize the sale because the county commissioners are doing everything in their power to obstruct the sale of the property and the result is you, the taxpayers, being cheated out of tax money that is rightfully yours. This issue could end immediately if the county commissioners wished it to end; unfortunately this is not the case.

The current board and their trustees want to let the taxpayers know that they are still determined and are working diligently to make sure the property is sold and the taxpayers credited the funds from the sale.

Tammy Maygra, Chairperson Columbia Health District, Deer Island