Letter: Mauck was a poor leader in county


I hope the people of Island County have done their homework when it comes to electing Kelly Mauck as our next assessor. Kelly’s campaign slogan is proven leadership and results. He has gone on record saying that as the county undersheriff he oversaw all aspects of the sheriff’s office. Part of leadership is taking responsibility, but Kelly seems to forget that he was one of five people to either quit or be fired after Keaton Farris died in the county jail under his leadership.

What was the result of his leadership? A $4 million dollar multi-county lawsuit paid to the Farris family, $50,000 from the county risk pool to pay for the lawsuit, and another $1 million dollars to hire a consulting firm which concluded among other deficiencies at the sheriff’s office that there was a lack of leadership at the top.

What’s most troubling is that there was another death in the jail some 18 months earlier where Kelly was asked about ongoing widespread problems at the jail and Kelly is quoted in the paper as saying “no problems with jail operation or policies were identified following McBride’s death.” That’s in stark contrast to a detective’s report on Farris’ April 8, 2015 death, which described a long series of institutional and staff failures in the days before he succumbed to dehydration.

What did Mr. Stanley of the consulting firm hired by the county at taxpayers’ expense have to say? Stanley wrote that the “paramount concern” from staff members was “the lack of policies and procedures.” While the jail had a policy manual, it wasn’t easily accessible or clear to employees. He recommended that jail officials and staff should work together to create a clearly defined policy and procedure manual and then there should be training on the policies. In the report, Stanley calls for increased staffing of corrections deputies and managers, as well as medical and mental health professionals. He wrote that increased and regular training is necessary, as is an updated and clear policy manual.

The problems, he noted, started at the top with leadership that hadn’t been progressive in dealing with the complexity of issues facing today’s jails. This is not the kind of proven leadership and results Island County needs as your next county assessor.

Justin Forsberg

Oak Harbor