This is interview #6 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day. A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!
Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Bill Hunt. Bill is a candidate for Sheriff of Orange County, CA. He got his start in law enforcement by joining the US Army as an MP at the age of 17. After serving in the military, Bill joined the Orange County Sheriff Department. He rose through the ranks, obtaining a diverse background within the department’s divisions, including jails, patrol, investigations, training, narcotics, gang enforcement and SWAT, supervision and management. Bill served as Chief of Police for the city of San Clemente, and was also responsible for the Tri-Cities Directed Enforcement Team. In December, 2006, Bill retired from the Sheriff’s Department and founded OC Detectives, Inc., a full service private investigations agency. Bill and his wife Debbie have four children and live in Laguna Hills.
Josiah Schmidt: Thanks for joining us, Bill. What compelled you to enter elective politics?
Bill Hunt: As a career law enforcement officer I took my oath of office and the law enforcement code of ethics seriously, I was compelled to run for sheriff in 2006 to offer an alternative to the corrupt Carona administration. I believe that those in public office should be held to a high standard, especially the person occupying the most powerful law enforcement office in the county! I was committed to restoring integrity to the leadership of the sheriff’s department. That commitment cost me my career.
Josiah Schmidt: What do you offer that your opponents do not?
Bill Hunt: I am the only candidate that has worked inside the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. In my 21 1/2 year career with the department I worked the jails, patrol, investigations, recruit training, SWAT, special investigations, supervision and management. I know that organization from the ground up. I had the support and endorsement of the rank and file in 2006 and again in 2008 during the appointment processes to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of the former sheriff. that support will be necessary to institute meaningful reform. I garnered nearly 100,000 votes in 2006 and have built county wide support for my candidacy. Public support will be important to institute meaningful reform. I am the only candidate committed to defending our constitutionally protected rights, including the right to keep and bear arms and have been on record about that since 2005. I have a plan to restore badly needed fiscal reform in the department that will decrease costs and increase service and performance. I am the only candidate who had worked in our jail system and I have a plan to institute badly needed reform in our jails.
Josiah Schmidt: What issues, related to the office you are seeking, do Californians care about most?
Bill Hunt: They want a sheriff who understands the authority of the office and will defend their rights. Californian’s are increasingly concerned with erosion of their individual liberties by the federal government and they should be! All we need to do is look to how the federal government crippled farming and drove unemployment in the central valley to more than 40% to protect the Delta Smelt. If I were sheriff up there I would have placed armed deputies at the turn off point and refused to allow the federal government access to turn off the water. We are losing our rights because those we elect to represent us are voluntarily surrendering their authority to the federal government. It’s time we started electing people who understand the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the authority of their office and will exercise that authority on our behalf when necessary. I am committed to doing exactly that. A close second is financial responsibility. The Sheriff’s department budget is $800 million. In these difficult times, Orange County told the appointed Sheriff to cut 3% of the budget. She waited 8 months to find a mere 3 cents on the dollar and her plan was to fire cops. I have a plan to streamline the bloated bureaucracy, cut wasteful spending and enhance service and performance for our citizens that includes reforming our jails, reforming drug treatment and medical services, feeding inmates in their cells, stopping senior leaders from spiking their pensions and eliminating take home cars for non-first responders for starters!
Josiah Schmidt: What candidate qualities are most important to Californians?
Bill Hunt: I believe that party affiliation is now secondary to the values of the candidate. In the past people were content to vote along party lines with very little research of the candidates. Many times, we simply followed establishment endorsements. But when We the People abdicate our responsibility to elect qualified leaders and leave it to the incumbent politicians, it is no surprise that corruption, abuse and mismanagement is the result. We are experiencing that at the national, state, county and local levels of government today. It’s time to stop reelecting people who say they support our values and start electing those who prove they will. We have to stop looking to slick talking career politicians and start electing practical, strong, principled leaders to all elected offices.
Josiah Schmidt: What do you see as the purpose of the office of Sheriff?
Bill Hunt: To protect our rights and ensure our safety.
Josiah Schmidt: What is the biggest change or reform you would like to make as Sheriff?
Bill Hunt: First and foremost, I will defend our Constitutional rights, starting with the right to keep and bear arms. My first day in office I will institute a policy that will ensure that any applicant who is a law abiding resident of the county, meets state mandated requirements and is not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm can obtain a concealed weapons permit. My policy will be that personal protection is sufficient justification to meet the state standard of good cause.
Josiah Schmidt: As an experienced law enforcement official, what is your opinion on the possibility that California might legalize marijuana in the next election?
Bill Hunt: It is the job of the sheriff to support and uphold the laws of the state. As it stands now, medical marijuana is legal in this state by a vote of the people. It is not the job of the sheriff to try to circumvent the will of the people by collaborating with the federal government. If marijuana is legalized I will treat it just like any other legal activity such as the use of alcohol. Responsible alcohol consumption is not a violation of the law. However, use by minors, driving under the influence, etc., are violations of law and they are enforced.
Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?
Bill Hunt: I have always been very patriotic and have a great love for this country and our freedoms. I am an Army veteran. My father, mother and brothers are all military veterans. I come from a family dedicated to public service and that has contributed greatly to my perspective that service is synonymous with sacrifice. Real and meaningful change has never come about without a good measure of both. I don’t feel like I can sit around and complain if I’m not willing to fight for the change in leadership this country and the office of the sheriff needs. I believe that we have the greatest system of government in the world and that we have failed it. It’s time to make that right for our children and future generations.
Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Bill Hunt: There is a lot of excitement around our campaign right now but as you can see from the recent senate race results in Massachusetts, the opposition is not going to lay down. If my values are your values, I need your help! We need people to get involved, contribute to the campaign, tell their friends, families, neighbors and co-workers to get involved. Wishing won’t get anything done, we need committed volunteers who will take our message to the people of Oranges County and wrest control of the Office of the Sheriff from the clutches of misguided local politicians and return it to the elected will of the people!
Josiah Schmidt: Where can people go to find out more about you and contribute to your campaign?
Bill Hunt: www.billhuntforsheriff.com
Josiah Schmidt: Can’t wait to see you in office. Thanks so much, Lt. Hunt. It’s been a pleasure.