Downum keeps sheriff badge

March 05, 2002 11:00 pm

By SUNNY LOCKWOOD

Calaveras County Sheriff Dennis Downum won a clear re-election victory Tuesday. But voters were far less decisive about who will oversee prosecuting those Downum and his officers arrest.

When ballots in the last of the countys 30 precincts were counted at 10:42 p.m. Tuesday, Downum had received 7,324 votes, for 62.7 percent of the total. His challenger, William Kaiser of Arnold, had received 4,335 votes, or 37.1 percent.

The three-candidate district attorney race ended with appointed incumbent Jeffrey Tuttle ahead, garnering 5,154 votes, or 44.5 percent; Brian Chavez-Ochoa receiving 3,315 votes, or 28.6 percent; and Robert Reeve receiving 3,075 votes, or 26.5 percent.

Chavez-Ochoa, of Valley Springs, and Tuttle, of Mokelumne Hill, will face off again in the Nov. 5 election.

Downum, of West Point, now heading toward his third term as county sheriff, said he is comfortable with the programs his department has in place. Well look for ways to enhance them, he said during a stop Tuesday night at the county elections center. But as far as our resources go, were maxed out on what we can provide.

He said his office has made a concerted effort to train officers for dealing with domestic violence. In January, he appointed one full-time domestic violence investigator.

Downum said the two largest crime problems in the county are theft and assaults. Most of the assaults are bar fights, he said. Nonetheless, as the county population rises, so do crimes, he said.

And most of the county jail inmates are accused of or serving time for methamphetamine-related crimes, he said.

Chavez-Ochoa, who monitored election results from his Valley Springs law office, said he is very pleased with the primary election outcome.

Our whole goal here was to make it into the runoff, he said. I feel very blessed and thankful for that. All the praise and glory go to Jesus Christ.

Chavez-Ochoa said the race was between him and Reeve.

If you look at the end results, Jeff Tuttle garnered 5,100 votes but Mr. Reeve and I together garnered 6,300 votes.