November 2016 Treasure Valley Voters Guide

Welcome to our Voter Guide for November's local races, bonds and levies, as well as the presidential election. Compare candidates' views on the issues side by side and create your own ballot, which you can then print or email.

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...Please note: Candidates' responses have not been edited except for libel.

Adams County Sheriff

Incumbent: Republican Ryan Zollman Term: Four yearsSalary: $56,000This race has gained extra regional attention following the Nov. 1, 2015, shooting of Council rancher Jack Yantis by two Adams County sheriff's deputies. In late July, the Idaho Attorney General's Office announced it would not file any charges against the deputies.Challenger Thomas Watts told the Statesman he had decided to run for sheriff well before that shooting occurred.

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  • Candidate picture

    Thomas Watts

  • Candidate picture

    Ryan Zollman

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Biographical Information

Why are you running for sheriff? Why are you the best candidate for the job?

What do you think the sheriff's office does particularly well? What needs improvement?

What type of leader are you? Describe your style.

Regarding transparency: How do you view the way the shooting of rancher Jack Yantis was handled? In retrospect, is there something you would have done differently?

What is your philosophy on use of force, and alternatives to deadly force? Do deputies get enough training on use of force and alternatives?

The department is competing with other much larger and better-paying agencies for deputies. What more can be done to attract qualified candidates?

What should the sheriff's role be in backgrounding new hires?

Do you think the community will remain divided over the Yantis shooting? If so, what will you do to repair this divide?

Have you been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, a misdemeanor or felony or had a withheld judgment? If so, what, when and where?

Have you or a company you owned filed bankruptcy? If so, when and where?

Age 63
Education Yerington High School, High Sierra Regional Law Enforcement Academy
Prior political experience none
Civic involvement I quietly give my time and energy to others on a personal basis.
Years living in Idaho four
Family Wife Brenda, Daughter Corrina
I moved into this area because I believed it would be an excellent place to retire. As I listened and observed the local news, I observed numerous issues that I thought were handled wrong, or the leadership was lacking. Since I came here four and a half years ago I have read about a violent felon that escaped, an inmate set himself on fire in the jail, an elderly woman seriously injured during an arrest, a Sergeant having sex in a patrol car with an intoxicated woman that should have been arrested for DUI. I noticed, as a private citizen that there was a lack of interaction between the public and the sheriffs office. They don't get out of their patrol cars and walk the streets. I also noticed a large number of traffic stops being reported in the local papers in 2015.
The deputies have remained loyal to the community while under intense scrutiny.
I lead by example. I expect the best a person can give. I am a quiet person and I observe others and try to help them bring out the best in themselves. I am open minded and will have an open door policy.
As I studied the evidence in the Nov. 1st 2015 shooting, I question the Sheriffs ability to secure a crime scene. The crime scene was not taped off, non essential people walking through the crime scene, witnesses driving off without being identified or questioned, an emergency worker holding the rifle used in the shooting, and the Sheriff did not secure the rifle in a secure place immediately upon arrival at the scene. The Sheriff chose to continue allowing an emergency worker to keep control of the rifle for over an hour, until the State Police investigators arrived and secured the evidence and the crime scene. I will bring in training to solve these issues.
Use of deadly force should always be a last resort. Deputies should be trained in de- escalation and non lethal weapons such as pepper spray and Tasers. A form of non-lethal weapon should be mandated equipment carried by all deputies.
The issue is the pay scale that is now in effect. It is necessary to bring wages up to a living standard. I would like to hire at least one retired law enforcement officer from another state that has extensive experience to train current officers, saving the county money on training, that savings could then be used to adjust the pay scale.
The way I will conduct a hiring process will be to conduct a through back ground check, contacting former employers, friends and relatives and checking into all law violations. I will require a lie detector test and a psychological evaluation. I will have a hiring board to question and discuss the applicants skills and abilities prior to hiring an applicant.
I believe the community can come back together in time, but it will require change in the administration. This administration has not and will not admit mistakes made by the department. I would like to see the deputies out in the community walking the streets talking to citizens. I would also like to form a volunteer Mounted patrol group for parades and rodeos to help the community feel it is involved with the sheriffs office. This group could also be involved with Search and Rescue.
Age 41
Education Associates degree in criminal justice
Prior political experience Elected Adams County Sheriff in 2012
Civic involvement Coach high school and Jr. high sports, FFA alumni chapter president, church youth group leader, Adams County Rodeo volunteer, Volunteer for Adams county fair.
Years living in Idaho 16
Family married to my wife Anna for 15 years with 3 children
I am running for sheriff because I truly enjoy working for the citizens of Adams County. The positive changes we have made in the past four years have been a pleasure to watch unfold. Adams County is a great place to live and raise a family. I enjoy our way of life and I’m proud to help make it that way. I will strive to continue to improve our way of life more each year.
As time permits, it is our goal to become more involved with community events. We also strive to spend more time with teachers and children in the schools. As public servants, we work for the people and we keep that in mind with each and every contact. It is our duty to keep the public safe and we work hard to fulfill that responsibility. Currently we are making as many public contacts as criminal contacts, possibly more and strive to improve on that.

We need to work on more Sheriff’s office sponsored community outreach programs and make better notifications to the public of what we are doing each and every day. We are a great organization doing great things but not everyone is being made aware of our undertakings.
I am a follow me leader. I will not ask my people to do something I am not going to do myself. I will not send a deputy alone on any call or to any event that I would not go to myself.

If the people working for you trust you they will serve the community at the highest level. Trust is the most important thing to me and my office.
The investigation was completed by the Idaho State Police and the Idaho attorney Generals office to the best of their abilities. We have made changes in the way we do our jobs and run the office to best serve the community. Based on the information we have received from the findings of the investigation and the information we have gathered from this incident. It was a very sad a tragic event and we wish it could be changed but it can not so at this time we have to do our best to over come the challenges we face and do our best to rebuild our community and their trust.
Use of deadly force should always be a last resort. We are all taught and trained to use every other tool (when time allows) we have before using deadly force. I don't believe anyone our agency wants to take the life of another.

We can never have too much training. I am constantly trying to bring in as much free training as possible and sending the deputies to training as they come available. No one can ever be trained for every situation, but we try to be as well trained to well serve the citizens and guests of Adams County.
Over the past four years we have increased the deputies pay by 19.5% Detention Deputies 22.5% and PSAP operators 25%. This is in an effort to make us more competitive with similar size counties Sheriffs offices. We have also worked very hard to make the Adams County Sheriffs Office and good place to enjoyable place to work and give the deputies a since of family and being a part of a great organization. We will continue to adapt and change to provide the best work environment to attract good Deputies and provide the most safety to the citizens of Adams County.
All Deputies have to go through an extensive criminal back ground check as well as past employment back ground check. Then a personnel reference background check There are many IDAPA POST rules and requirements a candidate must meet in order to be be eligible to become POST certified. We take all of this information into consideration and review to the best of our ability.
All incidents of this magnitude will great division a small community such as ours. We are try our very best to show to the concerned and divided part of the community that we are here to serve and to protect all the resistance of Adams County. We are continuing to be very involved in community and the events in the community. We have also hosted and put on some community events as well.