Editor’s note: Three men have announced their candidacy for Riverside County Sheriff in the 2018 election. Challenging incumbent Stan Sniff are Riverside County Lt. Chad Bianco and Hemet City Police Chief Dave Brown.
The Town Crier will interview each candidate before the June primary, when the top two vote getters will move to the November election.
The first interview is with challenger Chad Bianco, who is a lieutenant at the Riverside County Hemet Station.
Lt. Chad Bianco has been with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for 24 years. He began in corrections and has had progressive assignments from patrol, internal affairs and supervision, and has been assigned to the Hemet Station since September 2016, so he is familiar with the issues and problems in Idyllwild.
“I’ve served in every department and area but court services,” he stated. “I have a very broad knowledge of the department under four different sheriffs.”
He was born at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, and moved to California in 1989.
Bianco is married and has four children, ranging in ages from 21 to 27. All are in or interested in a public-service career.
“I believe the absolute mission of the sheriff is to provide the best quality service for residents and department members,” he said. “This is accomplished by utilizing the most resourceful and best interest of taxpayer funds as possible.”
Bianco challenged Sniff in 2014. He garnered about 38 percent of the vote to Sniff’s 62-percent lead. But that result has not deterred him from mounting another challenge this year.
That effort has both prepared and steeled him for this campaign. 2014 was his first entry in politics. He and his wife managed the campaign. This year, he has already hired a consultant and campaign manager.
“The events over the last three-and-a-half years have completely reinforced my opinion about the department,” he said.
He is adamant that Sniff is not managing the department successfully. Bianco argues that Sniff simply seeks more funding for the department rather than making the difficult decisions about resource allocations.
“He just demands more money. It is not the proper management and deployment of personnel,” Bianco claimed. “The county drawdown [reduction of deputy staffing in the unincorporated areas] was arbitrary and political … For [departmental] administration, there never has been a major push to save money. It’s all about getting as much money from the board.”
Consequently, Bianco believes Sniff publicly blames the Board of Supervisors for inadequate funding. “This makes it a budget issue rather than a management decision.”
To put pressure on the board for more dollars, he threatens to close stations or reduce patrols. When the board doesn’t have more funding, Bianco argues that Sniff cuts these activities to save face.
Bianco believes he could restore more deputies and, at the same time, more patrols to Idyllwild and other unincorporated areas if he were elected.
One source of more staffing would be the resources assigned to the contract cities. Bianco said the cities contract for hours of work and not a specific number of staff. With more efficient assignments, perhaps helped by the recommendations from the county’s management consultant KPMG, more deputy time would be available for unincorporated patrols.
Reasons to choose him
Bianco argued that the opposition to Sniff aligning in the campaign should be a huge red flag for voters. First, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Association, a labor association composed of the deputy sheriffs, has announced its support for Bianco. It recently gave $100,000 to his campaign.
“When people you’re supposed to be leading are supporting another member of the department as more capable, that speaks volumes,” he said.
Secondly, the entry of Hemet Police Chief Dave Brown is another red flag, according to Bianco. “He is someone from an outside agency we’re suppose to be working in conjunction with.”
“If elected, the first thing I’d do is mend political and working relationships with everyone in the county — the board, staff and cities,” he promised. “Morale is the lowest I’ve seen in 24 years. It has to be fixed.
“You just take the word of the sheriff. Internally, we know we can do better,” he concluded.
JP Crumrine can be reached at [email protected]