One of the hotter topics was pensions. The candidates were asked if the practice of promoting deputies right before their retirement to boost their payouts was a problem. Captain Jim Cooper, who’s also an Elk Grove city councilman, said no.
Cooper: “I’ve seen some promotions towards the end of their career, but most folks that get promoted stay on some time. So we don’t see that wholesale. I’m sure there are some abuses around; I have not seen a lot of abuses towards that subject.”
Former deputy and ex-Citrus Heights Mayor Bret Daniels immediately disagreed.
Daniels: “I think pension spiking, as it’s called, is disgusting. It goes on. It’s there. It’s happening – not just in Sacramento. It happens in all departments, and it needs to stop.”
All four candidates said the current pension system isn’t sustainable. The write-in candidate, retired FBI agent Frank Scafidi, called it a “job for life.”
Scafadi: “The way it’s played out, if you’re making $100,000 a year in your best year, you’re gonna walk away with $90,000 in retirement. That’s not retirement. That is full-time, life-span employment.”
And the candidates said the deputies’ union should help out. Captain Scott Jones went furthest.
Jones: “Unions have to be part of the solution – either by coercion or collaboration. I’ll definitely collaborate with them, but there’s gonna have to be some very difficult decisions made.”
The candidates share similar views in some areas. All favor allowing more county residents to obtain concealed weapons permits, though to different extents. And all oppose legalizing marijuana.
Captains Jones and Cooper have raised the most money and are considered the frontrunners, but they have very different supporters. Jones is backed by current Sheriff John McGinness and local police chiefs; Cooper, by former sheriff Lou Blanas and public safety unions.