The crowd of supporters was sparse last Thursday as incumbent Santa Barbara Sheriff Jim Anderson officially announced he would defend his title in the upcoming election. Bogged down in recent months by Sheriff’s Council controversy and hamstrung by severe state budget cuts, Anderson, 50, nevertheless declared his first three years in office a success. Joined by his wife and two adult daughters, Anderson took pride in stating that “crime is down and arrests are up” under his watch, adding that his department hired 18 new deputies, eight new corrections officers, three dispatchers, and a forensic pathologist, as well as secured $2 million toward a new North County jail. Alluding to the Sheriff’s Council fiasco, Anderson — who once served on the nonprofit organization’s Board of Directors — explained, “The Sheriff’s Council and the Sheriff’s Department share a name only. … The Council has their own leadership and with the court’s help, they are working out their issues.”
The Sheriff opted not to answer questions and ducked out from his own press conference before it was over, offering only that he needed to “get back to the business of being a sheriff.” Anderson’s hasty departure may be explained in part by the news earlier in the week that the union had voted out his ardent supporter, Senior Deputy Mike Durant, as president of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association (DSA). The DSA’s endorsement is considered a Holy Grail in the four-way race featuring three other bigwig lawmen — former sheriff Jim Thomas, Lompoc police chief Bill Brown, and sheriff’s deputy Butch Arnoldi. The DSA is expected to name its new president sometime in April. As for the gun-toting, badge-wearing party of four, their first public forum is slated for this week.