Bill White is choice for Walla Walla County sheriff

White is a solid leader with years of experience.


Bill White is the best fit to take over for retiring Walla Walla County Sheriff Mike Humphreys.

White has been a Walla Walla County deputy for 31 years and has served the past 12 as captain for patrols and investigations. He is a solid lawman and administrator.

But White is a lousy politician - and he would be the first to agree. White isn't comfortable campaigning, including standing before a crowd touting his accomplishments and plans for the future.

His opponent, John Turner, has a charismatic personality. He is a charming and effective speaker.

Turner has extensive experience in law enforcement, including 17 years of service with the Los Angeles Police Department and later as private counter-terrorism investigator in Iraq. Turner also did a stint as managing partner of Ash Hollow Winery in Walla Walla.

And it is here where we have doubts about Turner's ability to run the Sheriff's Office. Specifically, serious allegations have been made by a current and a former Ash Hollow board member that call into question Turner's judgment.

Records provided by the former Ash Hollow board chairman seem to back up many of the allegations. Turner admitted using the Ash Hollow credit card extensively for personal expenses.

This occurred at a time when the company was struggling financially and was likely in violation of company bylaws that prohibit commingling of funds. Turner acted without seeking clear direction from the entire board. Turner concedes he assumed these personal transactions were being tracked, but they were not.

Nobody is alleging any illegal activity. In fact, it's possible that miscommunication and the inexperience of running a winery were at the root of the problems. Still, the lapses in judgment are troubling.

In addition, we are disappointed in Turner's view on the release of information to media regarding criminal activity and investigations. Turner voiced his concerns about the amount of details now being released, saying access to information would be limited.

White understands the importance of releasing information to the public in a timely fashion. It is, after all, a public agency. White said he has no concerns about letting any Sheriff's Office employee talk with the media.

And, despite the political rhetoric to the contrary, we believe the Sheriff's Office has been well run for the most part under Humphreys and, before him, Bill Jackson. We've heard of no major complaints or credible concerns regarding law enforcement. While it's true state agencies are investigating the misuse of funds, county officials say White is not involved.

Some of Turner's plans for the Sheriff's Office are laudable but others might not mesh with what is realistic from a budget perspective. This could be frustrating for him and the public.

White is a solid leader - albeit a quiet one. White understands the challenges facing local law enforcement, including dealing with tight budgets and taking a proactive approach to fighting crime. White is well prepared to serve as Walla Walla County sheriff.


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