The Candidates for Clark County Sheriff, Part One

by lewwaters

Video of first forum here

Sheriff BadgeFour candidates have stepped up to the plate to replace retiring Clark County Sheriff, Garry Lucas, all with prior law enforcement experience in Clark County. Of course, only one will win the office in the November general election after two will prevail in the August primary election to face each other.

A Sheriff is a lot more important than many people realize. Far from just being responsible for overseeing the writing of traffic tickets, the Sheriff is responsible for managing the entire Department, maintaining the “oldest law enforcement agency in our state as well leading the Department Deputies in varied activities related to crime, enforcement of laws, corrections facilities, general safety of County Government and Citizens,” maintaining a rapport with the community and other elected officials, budgeting the Department, overseeing proper training of personnel and much more.

It is therefore incumbent upon us, the citizens and voters to elect the one candidate we feel is best suited for the position, based upon their values, experience and abilities.

Each candidate was sent a questionnaire with identical questions to be used to compare each. The questions were not “gotcha” to trip any up, but were ones this blog felt might help provide us with better insight into each candidate by seeing how they respond to the same question. Below I will attempt to summarize those responses in the first of a multi-part series.

And don’t forget to come out to the Sheriff’s Candidate forum scheduled for May 22 at the YWCA, 3609 Main Street, Vancouver, Washington 98663 hosted by the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation.

4 Sheriff

Chuck Atkins, retired less than one-year, served 35-years with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, working his way up to Assistant Chief of the Enforcement Branch.

Ed Owens cites extensive Law Enforcement experience beginning in 1988, 7 years of which was on the Clark County Sheriff’s Department until being terminated in November 2011, prompting Owens to file suit for wrongful termination.

John Graser spent 20 years with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, attaining the position of Precinct Commander and retired in 1996 due to injuries sustained in an “on-duty crash.”

Shane Gardner is currently a Sergeant with the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, having served with the Department since 1998.

Naturally, each candidate feels he is the best choice for our next Sheriff. John Graser claims he is “the only candidate that has identified specific issues, and solutions to problems faced by the community and the Sheriff’s Office.”

Ed Owens says he is “the only candidate who has served on the Clark County Law Enforcement Council as an agency head before” and that he is “the only one who also brings a wide range of experiences from outside the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.”

Chuck Atkins lays claim to being “the only candidate with current experience at the executive command level of a law enforcement agency, having “worked my way up through the ranks with assignments such as patrol deputy, K9 handler, SWAT, patrol sergeant, precinct commander, special operations commander, and assistant chief.”

Directing readers to his experience listed on his campaign web page, Shane Gardner claims “direct experience in the field and as a manager, and my knowledge of the community will be crucial to helping the Sheriff’s Office build stronger relationships throughout Clark County,” also expressing his desire to “bring a new level of collaboration between the Sheriff’s Office and the citizens in our community and a strong culture of fair, firm, and consistent operations.”


Recalling how personal firearms were widely confiscated after Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans and with the knowledge that such a law in our own state grants the Governor the same power, each was asked if such an order were to be given to confiscate personal firearms in a time of emergency, would they comply.

Ed Owens responded, “The Second Amendment is a fundamental right, I would NOT confiscate guns if an order came down in a time of emergency; I will stand for the citizens right to keep remained armed.”

Expressing strong support for the Second Amendment, Chuck Atkins replied, “I would never participate in the confiscation of firearms in violation of the 2A at any time, whether or not there was a natural disaster. This happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and it was a national disgrace.”

First indicating that during such an emergency the Sheriff’s Department would be too busy to confiscate lawfully owned personal weapons, Shane Gardner expressed appreciation for groups like the Oath Keepers, adding “I know them to be hard working people who I would consider asking for help in an emergency. They train themselves for these emergent situations, are organized, skilled, and knowledgeable.”

Also expressing his strong support for the Second Amendment, John Graser stated he would not disarm citizens in such an situation, adding that “there are not enough police officers in the county to attempt to confiscate weapons and manage the disaster simultaneously” and “I would want responsible citizens to be able to defend their own property and that of their neighbors.”

Graser added the caveat, “There would have to be a court order for any seizures, based upon probable cause, to initiate the seizure of any property, from any citizen.”


We all recall the recent standoff between Cattle Rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management, with lines being drawn on the position taken by the County Sheriff there, some supporting, some critical, everyone seemed to have an opinion.

Chuck Atkins reply indicated the matter was a great deal more complicated than viewers perceived. Atkins said that “the elected sheriff is responsible for law enforcement within the county but not on federal lands. There is a federal judiciary that is responsible for administering those lands and federal law enforcement officers are responsible for enforcing the law on those lands,” adding that a County Sheriff does not have the authority to “take over federal lands and arrest federal law enforcement officers.”

Atkins further said that a County Sheriff “should not be shy about lawfully intervening on behalf of the citizens,” clarifying with “There are many other options short of violence for a sheriff to undertake that would diffuse a tense situation such as the Bundy case. The sheriff’s role in such a case is to keep the peace, enlist the assistance of local and state representatives, as well as the governor, and to work for a sensible solution. Sometimes the sheriff needs to play the role of wise family patriarch and give wise counsel and guidance to those who might be acting rashly.”

Shane Gardner points to poor communication and weak relationships for how the stand-off grew, also saying that “Incidents like these are not all uncommon.” Citing his experience in community outreach building good inter-agency relationships in non-emergent times, Gardner says “I think trust and familiarity go a long way in preventing the escalation of issues between agencies, organizations, neighbors, etc.” and “as the elected Sheriff, I would serve the citizens of Clark County and their interests would be priority in the decision making process!”

Graser’s reply was somewhat simpler saying the Sheriff “should have been standing with his citizens from day one, in order to prevent violence.” Further stating that a “lawful court order” should have been in place and presented to the Bundy’s and the “seizure negotiated in a peaceful manner, without the need for an overwhelming armed response,” Graser also said, “The Sheriff should have been the one to do that, under authority of a lawful court order” and the Sheriff “should have been aware of what the BLM plans were prior to the initiation of the seizure and could have intervened earlier.”

Owens also has a clear view of the complexity of the matter saying, “it’s difficult to get a full picture of the events and know all the facts based upon reporting available; all the facts are never known or reported. There are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in between.”

He also added that he had “some problems” with how it was handled, primary among them the seeming lack of involvement of the Sheriff earlier. “It doesn’t appear that the local Sheriff was brought into the discussion and didn’t get involved until the standoff was well underway,” Owens said. “The Sheriff should always be involved and on the ground at such a situation if it develops, but this whole thing should have never happened.”

Owens is also critical of the BLM for not coordinating with local officials, adding, “The situation got out of hand, should never have reached this point, and the best resolution will only be found by working with the local and state agencies in the area.”


Asked about what sort of relationship do they look forward to with the County Commissioners, Shane Gardner responded, “All the elected officials in this county should work together to serve the citizens who elected them. The relationship specifically between the commissioners and the Sheriff should be familiar and constructive.”

Indicating how it is the County Commissioners that allocate funding to the Sheriff’s Department and how the County Sheriff should be “ready to explain to the Commissioners how that money is being spent and why,” Gardner feels “they will be more likely to entrust more funding because they know it will be spent responsibly on quality employees and necessary equipment and resources.”

John Graser wants to have “a cooperative, friendly working relationship with them” expressing how they “need to be informed and briefed by the Sheriff about crime trends and happenings in the community on a regular basis.” Citing he believes they are as concerned with the public safety as he is, Graser adds, “We should all be working together to deal with public safety issues. The commissioners’ authority to authorize the budget for the Sheriff’s Office effectively sets policy and it is very important that the Sheriff be able to communicate the needs of the community to them.”

Ed Owens agrees with the need to “develop a close working relationship with the commissioners” acknowledging the vast responsibility of the Commissioners, especially funding the Sheriff’s Office. Vowing to make the needs of the Department “clearly known” to the Commissioners, Owens would communicate on “ordinances enforced by the Sheriff’s Office or decisions that impact the safety of the community and effect crime in the county.”

Owens vows to “voice my concerns, objections or support for or on issues” to the County Commissioners, adding “I will be the voice and advocate for the citizens whom I serve as Sheriff.”

Chuck Atkins will maintain the good relationship he currently has with all election officials saying he “not prone to rash decisions or holding grudges.” Acknowledging that “county commissioners are in the business of running a county with a variety of departments,” Atkins says “My staff and I will work with the elected county commissioners, whether there are three or five, whether they are republican or democrat or independent, to make sure that the sheriff’s office has the resources it needs to get the job done. This involves making accurate and competent budget requests, spending our resources wisely, being creative in looking for alternative revenue sources which do not add additional burdens to taxpayers, and finally, earning and keeping the public’s trust.”


18 Comments to “The Candidates for Clark County Sheriff, Part One”

  1. Bunkerville, Nevada not Bundyville. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the correction, must be a senior moment on my part 😉

  3. interesting…

  4. Did I hear John Graser say he would be OK with violating our rights if he had a court order? The BLM had a court order at Bunkerville. Apparently, they did not have a court order in New Orleans

  5. I took his comment to mean that confiscation of any personal property must have gone through a court where just cause would have to be shown, not just by the word of one person like a Governor, mayor or commissioner, as happened in New Orleans.

  6. So a liberal gun-grabbing judge could issue a “lawful order” to seize personal property and Glaser would execute the order? I prefer an unequivocal “No, I will not violate the 2nd Amendment, I will not seize the guns of law-abiding citizens – no matter who issues the order”.

  7. That is not how I read it, Craig. There is a process for legal confiscation of personal property, back taxes, overdue fines, unpaid child support and such and the courts have a process that must be followed in order to take such property, usually to settle a claim or judgement. Sheriff’s are sent to foreclose on property, serve eviction notices and other acts.

    It is not a wholesale order to confiscate every gun.

    I see his comment as just saying there is a process for seizure to be followed that is not a wholesale order issued by one person, judge, governor or what. An order given under one persons whims would violate that process already in place.

  8. I will not vote for anyone who will not allow me to graze my cows for free.

  9. I took him to say he would not confiscate weapons unilaterally in violation of the second amendment. He went on to say ALL confiscations of ANY property must be individually processed through a court.

  10. buffalo1 I am sorry but I do not want you to graze your cows for free on my lawn. 🙂 lol!

  11. I couldn’t ascertain any valuable information from the candidates’ positions, other than Gardner sounds like a real insider, and a suck up.

  12. There will be at least two more installments coming. In all, I have over 40 pages to sift through and try to summarize.

    I don’t expect this comparison to make up anybodies mind, but to just give some insight into each candidate.

    I am sure more will be learned in upcoming forums and even whenever the Lazy C gets around to their choosing of who they will promote.

  13. In an emergency situation – especially a catastrophic emergency brought on by natural events such as weather or earthquake, or in a human event such as riot, insurrection, or war, even the calmest person can waver and do something they wouldn’t normally do, such as curtailing the rights of ordinary law-abiding citizens. Naturally, in an emergency situation, most people are going to try to work in cooperation with lawful authorities. I’m going to be looking for someone who has faced a dire emergency (or at least as dire as it can get in Clark County) and has not wavered in their commitment to the community and in their allegiance to the Constitution.

    I hope in your review, you’ve had an opportunity to look at some of those situations and how each candidate has conducted himself.

  14. Good luck in your search for a perfect person, Craig.

    That I recall, there have only been two perfect people ever created. One failed due to temptation and the other was crucified on a cross.

  15. Putting joking aside regarding grazing cattle on BLM land for just one moment, here…

    The BLM should be thankful the rancher is grazing his cattle on the grasses and what vegetation is on the BLM land in Nevada, reducing the potential for grassland fires. Greed plays a huge part in the issues regarding the BLM and the rancher. I’m just not sure which side is more greedy…unless the rancher is trying to keep the prices of beef down.

    Regarding the right to bear arms and the possible event that there would be an order to remove firearms from the people…

    Anybody who is quick to jump into an answer that after a court order (OR executive order for that matter) has been issued, that the “Sheriff” will then execute the order…tells me he’s not respecting the US Constitution. Hmm…

  16. buffalo1, bring on the cattle. I could use the fertilizer, free mowing and…

    maybe a side of beef in the winter???

  17. Good canvasing and good job reporting Lew–I look forward to the next installment.

  18. Thus far, I prefer Glaser due to his total Constitutional stance in all issues regarding the office of the Sherriff. You cannot function as Sheriff period if you do not uphold your sworn oath and uphold your Constitutional duty to your citizens. I feel it should be required for all sheriff’s nation wide should know the Constitution front to back, back to front and have a fundamentally sound understanding of its intention and meaning.

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