By SCOTT PESZNECKER
The Calaveras County Deputy Sheriff's Association will endorse candidate Brian Chavez-Ochoa in the November runoff election for district attorney.
Chavez-Ochoa, an attorney living in Valley Springs, won the DSA endorsement by a 25-1 vote over appointed incumbent Jeff Tuttle of Mokelumne Hill. Four association members voted to not endorse anyone.
"I was pretty blown away by that," said Chavez-Ochoa of the final tally. "I was pretty humbled."
Commented Tuttle of the association members: "They supported him in the primary. It's no surprise to me. I didn't know the numbers."
Deputy Sheriff's Association President Tracy Busby said 30 of the association's 52 members voted. Deputies had from Friday until noon Tuesday to drop their votes into a locked ballot box at the sheriff's department.
The day before ballots were passed out, about 20 deputies gathered at the Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill to hear Chavez-Ochoa and Tuttle discuss their campaign platforms.
Both talked about the need to be tougher on crime, hire more staff and improve the working relationship between the Sheriff's Department and District Attorney' Office.
Based on what was said at the forum, Busby said he could not single out one reason why deputies so overwhelmingly voted to endorse Chavez-Ochoa.
"I haven't talked to everybody who voted, but I think some guys just want some change," Busby said. "Tuttle has been in there for over a year now and some guys just don't see anything changing."
Chavez-Ochoa drew the same conclusion about the vote.
"Quite frankly, I thought Jeff did a good job at the forum, and I didn't think we were that far apart on a lot of the issues we discussed," he said. "The only thing I can make of it is that deputies want a change."
The association also endorsed Chavez-Ochoa in the March election, but it was Tuttle who won the most votes.