For the 2018 Primary Election, the Nye County sheriff’s race contains the largest pool of candidates for voters to consider, with a total of 10 throwing their hats in the ring.
The incumbent in the race for Nye County sheriff is Sharon Wehrly. Now over three years into her term, Wehrly said she is seeking re-election in order to continue with the work she initiated upon her entrance into the office.
“I am running for sheriff for the second time to finish the job I started and that was to completely revamp, update and re-mold the sheriff’s office into a compliant agency,” Wehrly explained. She noted that in the beginning, she had sat down with outgoing sheriff Tony DeMeo, who said the office was in fairly good shape. However, Wehrly said she ran into quite a few unanticipated issues not long after she started. “What I found was not what I expected,” she said.
Wehrly stated that she encountered programs that had simply “died” as well as areas of the department that were lacking policies and procedures and even somewhere there were no certifications from outside agencies. Wehrly provided a long laundry list of what she believed to be her biggest accomplishments in dealing with these problems, delineating everything from conducting 30-plus internal audits and introducing medical personnel at the detention center to implementing new software and having her SWAT team FBI trained and certified. Wehrly also touched on the department’s budget and “cleaning out corruption,” noting that 15 personnel had been terminated or have resigned or retired in lieu of termination since she took office.
Voters can learn more about Wehrly at www.sharonwehrlynv.com.
A former police officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and former Gaming Control Board enforcement agent, Joe Moffett said he believes he has what it takes to bring the change he wants to see in the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.
“I have lived in Pahrump for over 14 years and I haven’t seen any change in the law enforcement in the county by the last two sheriffs. What I am looking for is something that is better than what we have today,” Moffett stated. “After four years in the office and 12 years of the sheriff before this, it’s time for a big overall change with the right sheriff.”
Moffett lamented the fact that many residents in the community do not have a friendly relationship with the local law enforcement officers and he wishes to see the community viewing the officers as people to be respected, not to be avoided. Additionally, he expressed grave concerns over the safety of the county’s students, particularly in light of the tragic events of recent months, both across the country and right here in Pahrump. “I think my biggest program will be for protecting the kids,” Moffett said. “For I’d say eight months I have been trying to come up with plans to stop this from happening here.”
Voters can learn more about Moffett by calling 702-561-0101.
Ray “The Flagman” Mielzynski
Ray “The Flagman” Mielzynski is no stranger to running for Nye County sheriff, having unsuccessfully run five times in the past but he is hoping this will be his year.
Mielzynski vented his frustration over many of the practices of the sheriff’s office, particularly in relation to traffic infractions and what he feels is entrapment. “People are being railroaded by the system all the time… Right now the way the sheriff’s department is going for these traffic tickets and everything, they are milking people dry… The basis of all freedom is the right to be left alone and the sheriff’s department is not leaving people alone. They are after people for any little mishap or what they consider a mishap and they overcharge like crazy! They want their pint of blood and you can see it by the way they stack charges.”
Mielzynski’s main stance appeared to be eliminating public fear of the men and women in uniform, stating, “The power trip with the badge is outrageous and somebody has to rein these people in. That’s what I’m all about. I am going to put policies in place to say look, you’re going to use discretion and these people are the citizens, they are the boss, you are working for them.”
Voters can learn more about Mielzynski by stopping at the courthouse, where he can often be found when he’s not out in public hefting the American flag and touting a copy of the Bill of Rights.
A law enforcement officer with the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Asa Kulkin said he feels prepared to alter the negative perception that he believes has plagued the Nye County Sheriff’s Office for decades.
Kulkin detailed that even as a child, he heard stories regarding the office that gave it a terrible image. “And every election we are always promised the new sheriff will change it all,” Kulkin stated. “I know the current sheriff has been doing a lot recently but you still have the people, those problems, those who have been sued before or have been a focus of those stories of corruption, they are still in the office.”
With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Kulkin said he is uniquely qualified to introduce a change of mentality. “That’s given me a real understanding of not only how to interact with people but also, with the sheriff’s office, how to motivate people and change their viewpoints,” he explained, noting, “I don’t want to go in and fire everybody… I want them to make good decisions and change their behavior.”
As for goals, Kulkin said one key focus for him is identifying why criminals are repeatedly arrested, how to break the cycle. “They have served their time but they have learned nothing new to change their lifestyle, to do something different,” Kulkin said of the incarcerated, stating that tools such as therapy and training could help lead to a lower arrest rate, and therefore, a safer community.
Voters can learn more about Kulkin at www.asaforsheriff.com.
Nye County sheriff candidate David Hiebert comes with more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, from military police to county to the U.S. Marshal Service. He is yet another Pahrump resident stepping forward to seek the seat due to his belief that the sheriff’s department is in need of immediate change.
Hiebert said his bid for sheriff all started when he was prompted by a resident to run for sheriff. “I found out why he’d asked. The officers here are just not trained, they are just not paid and they are just so incestuous,” he said, referring to training done in-office rather than with outside agencies. “And there are people in law enforcement, I call it John Wayne syndrome, who are willing to sell their souls to the devil to make themselves look good… You have to have an aura about you that says you are not going to be part of that.”
In his discussions with the public, traffic was a main concern. “We need traffic enforcement but it should never be for revenue and that is what they’re doing,” he explained. “No officer should be able to say ‘I have to write this ticket.’ There is nothing wrong with giving warnings.” Hiebert said one of his missions would be to concentrate instead on finding legitimate ways to make the office money. One such option he would explore, he said, was implementing a computer forensics team that would then be able to sell its services to other agencies that are in need of such assistance.
Voters can learn more about Hiebert at www.hiebert4sheriff.com.
Former Nye County sheriff for 12 years, Tony DeMeo has made the decision to re-enter the political fray. Not holding back, DeMeo identified three specific reasons for his bid for Nye County’s top law enforcer.
“When I stepped down, we were moving in the right direction, our turnover rate was extremely low, we had resident deputies in the very rural areas and we had police in school, so I thought maybe someone new coming in would use that as a platform and move the sheriff’s office further in the right direction. Well, that didn’t happen,” DeMeo stated.
He said he has watched as the turnover rate has once again increased, noting that valuable resources are being used to train officers that then leave the county, taking their skills with them. Additionally, there were no longer deputies living in communities such as Beatty and Amargosa, which he would endeavor to change. “And the sheriff has removed the cops from the schools. With all the violence going on, why would you pull the deputies out? That’s insane,” DeMeo asserted.
However, the main impetus behind his run, he said, was the request of the public. “The citizens felt that the office is not responding to their needs. They felt there is now this gap, this disconnect… I proposed the question of ‘why?’ to everybody who asked me to run and the answer we kept getting… is, ‘We know you,’” DeMeo said. “‘We don’t want any surprises anymore… We knew where you stood, you were consistent in your service to the community.’”
Voters can learn more about DeMeo at www.tonydemeo4sheriff.com.
Candidate Dave Champion may not have traditional law enforcement experience, running a private security company for six years in California, but he said he is more than prepared to eliminate what he perceives to be corruption in the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.
Champion explained that several years ago, he became interested in what was happening in the sheriff’s office, particularly after a national news article that labeled Nye County as corrupt. The blame, he said, lies with the previous administrations, including those of Sharon Wehrly and Tony DeMeo, as well as all those who came before.
“We all talk about the corruption… and these investigations, these acts, were being ignored,” Champion explained. “How is it even remotely possible that being one of the 10 most corrupt counties in America in the last 30 years, not one single person has been arrested for official corruption? How is this possible, unless the sheriff’s department is corrupt?”
Champion declared that he is personally aware of deputies making false arrests and committing perjury, among other unseemly behavior. “I look at the totality of this picture… and I realize there has never been strong professional leadership. There has been a facade of professional leadership,” he said. “I sat the election out last time and things didn’t get better, they got worse, noticeably worse. So I said to myself, in all good conscience, win, lose or draw, I cannot sit on the sidelines again.”
Voters can learn more about Champion at www.sheriffchampion.com.
A former military service member, Gerald Butler said he is seeking the position of Nye County sheriff in order to return to true constitutional law and to mend the relationship between the office and the people of Nye County.
“Law enforcement has basically been wrong for the last 20 years,” Butler proclaimed. “If you read the Constitution, it grants the sheriff supreme authority to enforce the law within his county… Therefore, my main goal… would be to enforce the Constitution.” Butler stated that laws that do not fall within the Constitution are null and void. “That grants me the power to make sure everybody’s rights are protected.”
Butler too said he feels there are issues in the office and remarked that the real problem is with deputy training. “When they start learning, they learn bad habits and… what they do is end up perfecting those bad habits and they get away from the Constitution, they get away from the things they are supposed to be doing,” he stated. “Technically, we are not supposed to be enforcing the law, we are supposed to be enforcing the peace and using the law as a tool to do that.”
Butler said he wished to “monitor, educate and motivate” both the public and the officers to create an environment of openness and connectivity. On the issues, he noted that he will center much of his efforts on tackling the local drug situation, which in turn would help prevent other, more serious crimes such as rape and theft.
Voters can learn more about Butler at his Facebook page, Gerald.Butler.503645.
There are two other candidates for Nye County Sheriff, Kenneth Rex and Tasha Pfaff.
Rex scheduled an interview but was unable to make it and therefore, he sent a short statement. He focused entirely on body cameras, promising voters that the public will have access to all videos within 24 hours. “If the police officer did it right, you will know it. If the police officer did it wrong you can prove it all over the internet,” he wrote. “True community policing involves you being able to review the actions of the police officers at all times.” Rex declined to provide a photo to accompany the candidate profiles.
Attempts to contact Pfaff for an interview via the phone number and email she provided with the clerk’s office, as well as a letter mailed to her physical address, were unsuccessful as of deadline.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at email@example.com.