By Kent Gray
Triplicate staff writer
An announcement by Sheriff Jim Maready, stating he will retire in November, has created a vacuum the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors will have to fill, according to the county counsel.
Maready announced his early retirement to the board on July 25 with an effective date of Nov. 5, the same day as the general election. Second-in-command, George Mina, announced his retirement earlier this summer and will leave the department on Oct. 3.
"I feel because of the budget, personnel shortages and the need for the new sheriff to come on board as soon as possible, it would be beneficial for the county for the new sheriff to take his new position as soon as possible," Maready wrote in his retirement letter. "If this is not possible I suggest Commander (Tony) Luis take the office temporarily until the new sheriff comes on board."
Del Norte County Counsel Bob Black said Luis will assume the duty if the board decides not to take any action. Maready did not immediately return messages left at his office yesterday and Mina was reportedly out of town and unavailable for comment.
"Tony Luis would automatically become the acting sheriff if the board does nothing," Black said of Luis, who will be the senior administrator in the department in November. "However, I've looked into this and the board does have the right to make an appointment if it desires."
The appointment would most likely go to one of the two remaining sheriff candidates: Crescent City Police Sergeant Dean Wilson or former Del Norte County Sheriff Mike Ross. Wilson and Ross defeated candidates Mina and former jailer Tom Galbraith in the primary election last March.
The primary results had Wilson with 44.8 percent of the vote, Ross with 26.2 percent, Mina with 23.8 percent and Galbraith with 4.9 percent. Under normal circumstances, the new sheriff would not assume office until January.
There has been no official announcement from Mina or Galbraith supporting either of the remaining candidates. Maready endorsed Mina during the primary election.
In Maready's retirement letter, he suggested the new sheriff could assume command as early as Nov. 6, although Black said this is unlikely.
"Whoever is the top votegetter could be appointed as soon as the sheriff steps down," said Black. "But because the election is on a Tuesday I would suspect it would be a week before an appointment is made, assuming the board wants to do that."
Although Black said there has been no instruction to add a sheriff's appointment to the November agenda, he said he anticipates it.
"With the sheriff giving his announcement this early and the board already being aware of it, I suspect as we get closer that will probably happen," said Black.