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Moore wins third term as SJC Sheriff

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POSTED June 5, 2014 1:38 a.m.

The results have yet to be certified official, but San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore appears to be headed for a third term. 

With all of the precincts reporting early Wednesday morning, Moore held a 58 to 41.73 percent lead over challenger Pat Withrow. With 27,503 votes to Withrow’s 19,785, Moore – who had the support of many of the county’s top elected officials and local business groups – will get another four years to face the issues plaguing the criminal justice system in San Joaquin County. 

The bitterly-fought contest, which pitted Withrow, the Sergeant in charge of the county’s Alternative Work Program and with the support of the rank-and-file deputies against the administratively-tracked Moore, cost both men roughly the same amount of money – according to campaign filings current as of May 17. Moore spent $138,000 and Withrow had spent just under $135,000. Moore still had over $100,000 in the bank at that point to Withrow’s $17,000, and how much each men spent in the blitz leading up to the election is not yet known. 

 Issues surrounding the San Joaquin County Jail, its burgeoning population and how to balance the changing face of the California criminal justice system were at the core of the election with Moore contending that he did as much as possible during a tumultuous term that essentially changed the way the accused and the convicted with processed and housed seemingly overnight. 

Withrow claimed that Moore was too quick to turn felons back out onto the street and released a scathing video showing examples of dangerous criminals that worked through the “revolving door” that had developed in French Camp. He also claimed that Moore squandered a golden opportunity by not following through with an $80 million grant by the State of California that would have doubled the size of the jail – money that had to be returned after a stream for ongoing operations costs couldn’t be agreed upon. 

The challenger also slammed Moore on not being tough enough on rural crime, even though the Sheriff has appeared to win the vote of the agricultural community – earning the endorsement of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation.

But despite being constantly hammered, Moore focused his campaign mostly on education – spelling out how the county has worked to stay ahead of California’s prison realignment bill rather than reactively waiting – and forging a list of supporters that included current and past local law enforcement administrators, elected officials, community leaders and organizations. 

He also talked about how even though the department faced budget shortfalls that stretched as high as $23 million, he never had to take a deputy off of patrol in order to make the numbers work – a testament, he said at the time, to the amazing support staff that picked up the slack when cutbacks became part of the standard fare for the day-to-operations of the county’s largest law enforcement agency. 

Withrow said that he plans on going back to work just like it was any other day and will serve at the pleasure of the Sheriff – hopefully staying in his current capacity until he is reassigned elsewhere. San Joaquin County’s AWP is one of several programs offered as a diversion to incarceration at a county jail for people convicted of a crime and sentenced to a duration of less than a year.  

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