By Kevork KURDOGHLIAN
The first meeting of the new year of the Cañada Crescenta Democratic Club was held at the home of Anthony and Ellen Portantino in La Cañada Flintridge on Jan. 26. The guest speakers were Patrick Gomez, a candidate for Los Angeles County Sheriff, and Peter Dreier, a professor of politics at Occidental College, who talked about his new book on 20th century liberalism.
Gomez is making another run for the sheriff’s position after an unsuccessful campaign against then-incumbent and recently retired Sheriff Lee Baca. Gomez recently retired from the Sheriff’s Dept. after 31 years of service.
Gomez spoke to the crowd of roughly 40 attendees, telling them about what he sees as being the major problems with the Sheriff’s Dept. and his solutions to those problems.
His campaign is different than the other campaigns, he said, because he “talked about these issues in 2002 when I was on the department.”
“None of the candidates are talking about the issues I’m talking about,” Gomez said.
One of his main reforms he would institute if elected would be hiring more doctors and nurses to provide better medical care to inmates.
“It’s not right when an inmate comes into the jail and it takes a month, maybe a little longer sometimes, to get their medicine,” he said. “As a result [the prisoners] start acting up … lawsuits are filed. It can all be prevented, but you need to have a sheriff that’s going to be proactive.”
He also wants to provide more funding to the STARS (Sheriff’s Training Academy and Regional Services)program in local elementary schools through cost saving methods like reducing the number of take home cars used by department officials.
“There’s a lot of things we’ve got to do to cut the fat in the department and redirect that funding to programs that are important,” he said.
Gomez was critical of the current hiring procedures. To remedy this he wants to change the department’s hiring procedures to get the most qualified officers.
He said, “As a result of hiring anybody who fills out an application we have problems later on in the jails.”
He then spoke about inmate abuse, taking a jab at former undersheriff Paul Tanaka who is also a candidate for sheriff.
Citing Tanaka, Gomez said that people who are and were a part of the “Baca regime” would go against his goal of “changing the culture within the department.”
Of his opponents, specifically Jon McDonnell, the police chief of the Long Beach Police Dept., Gomez said, “They didn’t have the courage to run against Baca, now some of them are going to jump in.”
The election takes place in June.