Incumbent Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster is being challenged by former deputy and local businessman Mike Gannuscio. The pair will be on the ballot for the Aug. 4 Republican primary. Schuster is seeking a second four-year term. The salary for the position, which is set by state lawmakers, is $100,824 per year. The candidates submitted answers to the following questions.
What makes you the right person for Mohave County Sheriff?
Gannuscio: I am a successful business man, my wife and I own K&M Hay Company, Double R Hay & Feed, and a ranch. I retired from Mohave County as a deputy due to an on-duty injury so I have knowledge of law enforcement and how the sheriff’s office runs.
With my experience, I will strive to keep our budget balanced and save tax payer money while improving the quality of service throughout Mohave County. I believe in public service before self-service.
Schuster: I have served the citizens of Mohave County with the Sheriff’s Office for 30 years. As your Sheriff, I am proud to say we have made great improvements over the past 3 1/2 years. We have gone from a training ground for other agencies to an exceptional Law Enforcement organization.
We have accomplished everything I campaigned on in 2016 and so much more.
I have the respect, trust, and official endorsement of all local law enforcement and we have created remarkable relationships with the public. To find out more please visit www.sheriffschuster.com.
Will you enforce executive orders issued by the governor of Arizona?
Schuster: As Sheriff I have sworn to uphold the law without bias or prejudice. It is also my responsibility to ensure that our citizens are protected from Government overreach. I will continue to serve in this capacity with the understanding that I will not enforce any law or executive order that violates individual rights or freedoms as defined and guaranteed in the United States Constitution.
Gannuscio: I will review the governor’s orders and I am not opposed to enforce those orders as long as the orders do not violate our constitutional rights.
Would you rather spend money on more deputies or body cameras?
Gannuscio: I would spend money on both a deputy and a camera. My bid on body cameras is over a million dollar less than the Sheriff’s current bid. We need more deputies and we need to make certain that our deputies are equipped the proper equipment. As your Sheriff, we won’t have to choose.
Schuster: We have created a 10 year Strategic Plan that can be found on the Mohave County Sheriff’s website. In this plan we recognize that we are grossly short of deputies based on federal, state, and local averages. We must continue to increase staffing to better serve our citizens and that has, and will continue to be a priority. Body cameras are a great tool that I fully support. Fortunately it looks like a funding source has been found to add body cameras this year without taking away from staffing increases.
Does the sheriff’s office need an airplane, and why or why not?
Schuster: The Sheriff’s Office absolutely needs an aviation unit. We have had two planes in our inventory for over 30 years. Due to the size of Mohave County, it is vital to have the ability to respond rapidly by air, reducing ground travel time in emergency situations at times up to 5 hours. In addition, we frequently conduct extraditions of inmates from around the country. We recently acquired a larger plan using RICO funding that came at no cost to the local taxpayers. This aircraft allows for extraditions that otherwise were done on commercial airlines at a higher cost and with too much exposure of dangerous felons to the general public.
Gannuscio: Yes, there is a need for a plane for transport of inmates from the Strip, and local fugitive recovery. The sheriff’s office recently purchased a $295K airplane. I believe that the sheriff’s office should have received more bids and research for this purchase. I do not need believe that there is a need for this specific airplane in patrol. The cost of maintenance on this airplane will put a burden on taxpayers.
Has the current climate surrounding policing made you want to take a second look at any particular practices of the sheriff’s office?
Gannuscio: I started running for sheriff’s office prior to the current climate. The changes I want to implement have not changed. A community oriented policing program has the sheriff administration involved with communities by monthly meetings. This will bring the sheriff’s office back to a service-oriented office and true transparency.
Schuster: In the 30 years I have been in Law Enforcement I have seen many changes. The current climate troubles me greatly and I am proud to live in Mohave County where the majority of our citizens respect and appreciate law enforcement. As an agency, we are always looking to improve practices that are less than effective or outdated.