The debate for Jefferson County Sheriff Monday involved current sheriff Marc Heckathorn and challenger Jason Pollock.
It’s a first debate for both candidates.
Heckathorn has never run for sheriff as he was appointed and pollock is a deputy, currently working for the man he hopes to unseat.
In the debate moderated by our own Karli Olson, a question about the legitimacy of the People’s Rights Group lit sparks.
“That’s a group that is a good question for Jason because that’s one of his key demographics,” Heckathorn said.
“I think they’re community members just like you and I and I think they have some valid concerns,” Pollock said.
Both candidates were also asked if they’ve been disciplined by their respective departments.
Pollock said he’s been reprimanded by Madras Police and Jefferson County Sheriff while working for them.
Heckathorn claims he has not been reprimanded during his career.
“I think that anybody who has worked in law enforcement for as long and have been on the road for as long as I have and has made as many contacts with the public as I have, would be a person that would get complaints,” Pollock said.
“I think there’s a big difference about what my opponent talks about a complaint,” Heckathorn said “Complaints come in. Lots of people get complaints but people don’t get complaints for things that aren’t unfounded.”
A question about the jail levy, passed in 2021, garnered more pointed responses.
“He was silent on that entire topic,” Heckathorn said of Pollock “If that levy hadn’t passed by 94 votes, we’d be trying to pass that levy right now.”
“I didn’t feel that given my position it was appropriate given this election for me to step in and basically try to do the current sheriff’s job,” Pollock said.
The candidates found plenty to argue about, but agreed, their race has been full of tension.
“The most tension wise thing that I can say is going on is this election,” Heckathorn said “This has been unnecessarily confrontational for some people.”
“And so if there is any kind of negativity, sometimes its because somebody has had a negative contact with law enforcement,” Pollock said.
You can view the entire debate, including discussions about gun control and homelessness, on the City Club of Central Oregon’s website later tonight.
There is a third candidate in this race, Rick Dupont, but he was not part of the debate.
If a candidate gets more than 50% of the vote for the primary, they win the election by default.