Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A current Greene County sheriff’s deputy will face a former one in next week’s election to replace Sheriff Tom Heater, who announced early this year that he would not seek re-election.

Voters will choose between chief deputy Jack Williams, 33, of Jefferson, and former 10-year deputy Steve Haupert, 63, of rural Jefferson, who is a corn and soybean farmer, in the election on Nov. 6.

The new sheriff will serve a four-year term.

Both have said that updating the county’s communications equipment will be a top priority for the next sheriff. The problem, Williams said, is that deputies who stray from their vehicles can lose radio contact with emergency dispatchers.

“We cover all but one town in the county,” he said. “The portable radios — when we’re away from the car — won’t make it back to the law center.”

The candidates said they will challenge deputies to be better if elected: Haupert, a Democrat, said deputies would be held to higher ethical standards under his watch — though he declined to say specifically how they might be deficient now — and Williams, a Republican, said he would establish basic physical-fitness standards for deputies, who he said face no annual fitness tests now.

Both men have lived most of their lives in the Jefferson area.

Haupert grew up near Cooper, graduated from Iowa State University, and has farmed with his brother north of Jefferson since 1970. He later attended the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Johnston and was a Greene County sheriff’s deputy from 1998 to 2008.

Williams grew up in Jefferson, served five years as a U.S. Marine and has been a Greene County deputy for seven years. He was named chief deputy about two months ago, he said, which was after he won a close primary race in June with fellow deputy Kirk Hammer by a 245-231 vote.

This is Haupert’s second run for sheriff. Heater, a Republican, defeated him 2,619-2,086 in the last election in 2008, or 56 percent to 44.

Haupert handily defeated Mark Clouse, a Jefferson police officer and former sheriff’s deputy, in the June primary 497 votes to 373.  

Heater has not publicly endorsed a candidate to replace him and did not respond to multiple requests to comment for this article. He released this statement in January:

“I wish to announce that I will not be seeking re-election this upcoming election cycle for Greene County sheriff. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the Greene County citizens as a career peace officer since 1977. At the completion of my term next December I will have served almost 36 years in law enforcement. I plan to continue to live and hope to work in another capacity in the Jefferson area.”

State records show that Haupert has spent about $4,600 for the primary and general elections as of Oct. 14. He had raised about $5,000.

Williams said he has spent about $4,000 for the general election, but he has not filed any reports with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board because he only recently spent the money, he said.

State law requires campaign committees to register with the state within 10 days of spending or raising $750 or more. Fines for delinquent reports range from $20 to $200 for local candidates.

Williams said he plans to run for re-election until he retires if elected sheriff in November.

“I just want to continue what the current sheriff has done throughout the rest of my career,” Williams said.

Haupert said he would seek re-election one time if elected.

“I feel very comfortable with the rural setting,” he said. “I can hardly go anywhere where I don’t know somebody.”