The Journal endorses Rob Nou for San Juan County sheriff | Editorial

Rob Nou ... candidate for San Juan County sheriff - Contributed photo
Rob Nou ... candidate for San Juan County sheriff
— image credit: Contributed photo

The Journal of the San Juan Islands did not make lightly its endorsement in the race for San Juan County sheriff. Five very fine candidates. We’ve studied each candidate’s background, experience and record. We’ve pored over each candidate’s issues and priorities. We’ve interviewed. We’ve covered the forums and studied the Q&As.

We recommend voting for ROB NOU.

Nou has experience and ideas. He also brings fresh leadership, unencumbered by baggage that can come with being with an organization for a long time.

Nou — who joined the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department as a deputy after four years as police chief in Burns, Ore. — has 29 years of law enforcement experience, much of that as an administrative sergeant with the Yamhill County, Ore., Sheriff’s Department. He’s managed or supervised drug-abuse awareness programs, a multi-agency traffic accident investigation team, traffic safety enforcement grant projects, and a city police department.

In Oregon, Nou lobbied for state funding for Healthy Start and Early Head Start programs, saying tough law enforcement is essential “but we’ll win a victory over crime only when our commitment to putting dangerous criminals in jail is matched by our commitment to investing in our children.”

Nou knows the challenges of running a tightly-funded and tightly staffed department. As police chief, Nou and four full-time officers provided law enforcement in the county seat of the largest county in area in Oregon. His 911 center served the entire county.

“We are one of two municipal police departments in an area of 10,000 square miles. If someone (outside the city limits) needed help, we’d go out,” Burns Assistant Police Chief Brice Mundlin said.

Nou’s budget for police and 911: $750,000.

Former Burns mayor Laura Van Cleave said of Nou’s management style, “We’re a frontier community, miles and miles and miles from anyplace — 130 miles from Bend, 130 miles from anything of any size, so we’re very self-contained. We’re the biggest county geographically in Oregon and the eighth biggest in the U.S. Some people count their people per square miles, we count square miles per people. Rob just fit in, perfect as far as I’m concerned.”

She said of Nou, “If you’re looking for a good sheriff, he would be perfect. I’d vote for him in a minute.”

Assistant Chief Mundlin said of Nou, “He was very thorough. Reports had to be top-notch. He strived for everyone to do better, and you came away realizing it was worth doing.”

As sheriff, Nou wants to build camaraderie, cohesion and teamwork in the department. He has solid ideas for training and building deputies’ familiarity with all of the islands. He will bring an administrator’s know-how — and, as he puts it, a “fresh set of eyes” — to the job and the challenges the new sheriff will face.

Nou is right for the job. We encourage islanders to vote for him on Aug. 17.

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