A+ A A-

Paulsen: Vote for Eric Peter for Sheriff

  • Written by Justin Paulsen

In the coming election, our slate of choices for local decision making will be limited. While most positions on the ballot are uncontested, we will finally have the chance to make a new choice on the position in our community which requires the deepest level of trust of any locally elected position: Sheriff.

Over the past eight years, I have watched in awe, as the San Juan County Sheriff’s office has become an institution that raises more concerns than it solves in the execution of its duties. Don’t get me wrong, we have some amazing deputies: Involved, responsive and dedicated to the safety and wellbeing of our community. But in that time, for all of the great deputies we currently have, we have lost just as many. Deputies with decades of experience who came here, became established members of our community and tried to put down roots only to see their input and experience driven away by questionable leadership and poor management. Leadership which, to this date, has yet to cohesively explain actions so egregious that the judicial system was forced to intervene to assure constitutional compliance. Law Enforcement, as a positive culture, cannot be effectively maintained if those in leadership refuse to abide by the rules they are charged with enforcing.

But change, for changes sake, is also not a solution. So, in an effort to understand our options, I have taken the time to study, understand and look at the choices we have. Our choice for change this term is current Sergeant Eric Peter. When Eric arrived on Orcas Island in 2017, he brought 22 years of real-life police background with him. He worked directly on the streets dealing with high-level violent crime, gang and drug issues. In talking to him, it was refreshing to hear him openly discuss the difficulties and stress that those activities had not only on the community but on him as an officer. He is an officer that has a deep understanding of how communication and trust can have a radical impact on community relationships.

As a now Sergeant on San Juan Island, Eric has had the opportunity to live and understand that the San Juan Islands, while all contained in one County, each have their own pulse. He also understands that despite our differences, the people of San Juan County should be able to expect a consistent level of service. Deputies should be given proper tools and training, communication should be open and the concerns of all citizens should be given equal weight. In his current on-the-street work, Eric is already known to the community as approachable, reasonable and most importantly respectful. To his fellow officers, he is an asset and already a respected leader.

We cannot continue to see the trust and respect our community has in its law enforcement officers eroded by maintaining questionable leadership. We have an option this November to make a change and I will be voting for the option that brings Trust, Communication and Respectability back to San Juan County. I will be Voting for Eric Peter for Sheriff and I hope you will join me.

Justin Paulsen

Orcas Island