Summit County Sheriff's Capt. Justin Martinez declared Wednesday he will run for sheriff in next year's election. In an interview with The Park Record, Martinez said he has the "experience, training and knowledge to continue running a very effective Sheriff's Office."
Martinez, 44, who lives in Jeremy Ranch, has worked at the Sheriff's Office since 2005 and has been captain overseeing operations since 2012. If elected, he would succeed Dave Edmunds, the three-term sheriff who will not seek re-election next year. He will run under the Democratic ticket.
One of the most important issues the next sheriff will have to deal with, Martinez said, is addressing the divide between the East and West Sides of Summit County. The East Side, he said, being agrarian, takes a different law enforcement approach than the West Side and its focus on a resort-based economy.
"You have to just go to both sides of the county and speak their language and try to resolve their issues," Martinez said. "The East Side expects a more personal touch and the West Side wants to know and have a safe community to have [recreational opportunities]."
Speaking with community leaders on both the East and West to resolve their specific issues will be the approach Martinez said he will take.
Martinez said he has a very intimate knowledge of the Sheriff's Office and that he has come up through the ranks.
With budget cuts having already hurt the Sheriff's Office during Edmunds' leadership, Martinez said the office will continue to "go forward and do quality police work" despite any future cuts. He expressed hope that the office's budget would be fully restored to its previous level.
"Budget cuts are hard on everybody. It's hard to run an organization when you're losing manpower," Martinez said. "Response times have increased because of the loss of manpower and traffic stops have gone down."
Martinez said much of the Sheriff's Office's intelligence gathering efforts stem from typical traffic stops. The diminished patrol presence, he said, has increased the risk of drunken driving violations, which further increases the risk of traffic fatalities.
Martinez said the Sheriff's Office would recruit from both within and outside the county if he is elected.
"We would always like to have employees that live inside the county, but we want to have the best candidate. Hopefully the best candidate is a resident," Martinez said.
Martinez said he would ensure the Sheriff's Office remains a proactive law enforcement agency that addresses the diverse needs of the county.
"I'm excited for the opportunity to run and campaign and get my name out there, and hopefully people will find me to be the best and most qualified candidate," Martinez said.
The candidate filing window for the 2014 election is in March. For more information on filing, call the Summit County Clerk Kent Jones at (435) 336-3203.