Del Norte County Sheriff Randy Waltz, who was appointed by county supervisors to serve out a term left vacant by Sheriff Erik Apperson, plans to pursue his “first foray into public office” by running for sheriff in June.
“I let staff know this past week that I plan to run, right before Christmas,” Waltz said.
The position of sheriff is put before Del Norte voters every four years, and Waltz’s current term expires at the end of 2022.
Apperson hired Waltz as undersheriff in June 2020, and according to Waltz his goal was to stay for three to five years, then retire. But then Apperson released a statement in October of his intent to move to an area that could meet his family’s medical needs, as well as to pursue a possible career change.
“That changed things immensely,” Waltz said. “You know what they say, ‘If you want to make God laugh, make plans.’”
Waltz added that his decision to run for sheriff was made three weeks ago, after considering what he believes are the needs of the agency and after talking with his wife, Shelly.
If elected to serve a four-year term, Waltz said he has two goals: To recruit and retain more officers, and increase training and pride amongst those already within the department.
“We aren’t able to offer the highest-level salary, that’s always been a challenge for us,” said Waltz. “Our recruitment efforts will change a bit - we will be recruiting more home-grown people.”
Waltz said this will include reaching out to local 18-year-old residents to work in the jail system - positions of which could morph into a transfer to the patrol division and training within the academy at the age of 21.
“Beyond that, I want to bring the highest level of training to our employees,” Waltz said, adding that the department’s POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) inspection in August “came out very well.”
So far, Waltz is the first candidate to announce a run for the sheriff position.
“I don’t know if anyone else is running,” he said. “I’ve heard that a couple of people might be considering it.”
If more than one person runs for sheriff, voters must approve one candidate by 50% or more of the vote, otherwise a run-off election is held in November.
Currently, the sheriff’s department includes about 60 employees, and includes the jail, dispatch center, court services, patrol and administrative staff.
Prior to moving to Del Norte County, Waltz worked as an adjunct instructor at the State Center Community College District in Fresno, as senior district attorney investigator in Fresno, and as a sheriff’s sergeant in the Tulare County’s Sheriff’s Office.