Mike Downey in control of Humboldt County sheriff's race; early indications point to victory
If early indications are correct, Mike Downey will be the next sheriff of Humboldt County.
Preliminary results have Downey with just under 67 percent of the vote, well ahead of opponent Mike Hislop, who checked in with 33 percent. The numbers were the latest available shortly before midnight, and came largely from absentee ballots with 40 of 132 precincts reporting.
Downey was celebrating the apparent victory with his campaign team at the Elks Lodge in Eureka.
”I'll say what I've said all along, and that's that we are gonna win this thing,” Downey said. “I believe that was always going to be the case.”
Downey, 54, has worked in the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office for 24 years, and has served as undersheriff since 2006. He lives in Fortuna with his wife and six children.
”I have a great committee that worked very hard spreading the word, and tonight the public is speaking,” Downey said. “I have the experience, and that's the difference.”
Downey's campaign manager Dave Walker said he couldn't ask for more at the time of preliminary results.
”We felt that we had this thing in control all along,” Walker said. “The last week we've pretty much just been on cruise control.”
At the Best Western Humboldt Bay Inn on the other side of Eureka, Hislop was optimistic at his campaign party, and said that it was still too early to tell. Hislop, 45, was with the Eureka
”I'm feeling good,” Hislop said. “We just have to wait and see -- we still have 100 precincts that need to come in.”
The budget of the Sheriff's Office became a key campaign issue when Hislop contended that it ran over by $1.4 million last year.
”These are tough economic times,” said Hislop, who added that fiscal responsibility is huge. “Right now we need to just weather the storm.”
Downey said that it was simply a misunderstanding of how the budget process works, and that the office actually came in just $279,000 over.
”We beat that horse dead,” Downey said. “The truth of the matter is that the deficit was the result of a decrease in revenues that we could not anticipate.”
Downey said that if he wins, he plans to expand services to Humboldt County residents by maintaining six resident deputies that will each patrol a different area of the county. Other points to work on include hiring more deputies and getting a core staff together, he said.
Incumbent Gary Philp decided not to run for re-election this year, and endorsed Downey for the position. Philp's term ends on Dec. 31, when the new sheriff will take over.
”The day that he (Gary Philp) walks out the door I want to have a natural, smooth transition,” Downey said.
Downey was confident as his campaign party drew to a close, and said that once other precincts such as Fortuna and McKinleyville came in, he felt his lead would either stay the same or increase.
At a Glance: Preliminary results with 30 percent of precincts reporting
Mike Downey: 67 percent
Mike Hislop: 33 percent