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Commissioners choose Mace to serve as county's sheriff

Chris Mace is the new sheriff of Klickitat County as of Monday

Chris Mace is the new sheriff of Klickitat County.

On Monday, the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners announced they had made a "consensus choice" by naming Mace. Mace won the appointment over two other candidates, Rick McComas and Elmer Kinder, both of whom had previous years of service with the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office.

Mace, who has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience, said he was gratified with the decision of the commissioners.

"It is an overwhelmingly good feeling," Mace said. "I'm grateful for the support from the community and community members, and for the support of the Republican Party precinct officers. And I certainly appreciate the support from the commissioners. It really makes you feel good when people entrust you with that, and believe you're the person who can do the job."

The appointment ends several weeks of uncertainty following the March 12 resignation of the former sheriff, Bob Kindler, who was elected to a four-year term in 1998.

Mace, 41, had served as KCSO undersheriff from January 1999 until he was appointed to the sheriff's job.

County Commissioner Don Struck said there were three key issues the commissioners looked at in making their selection.

"Our feeling was we had three very qualified candidates, so we looked at three main issues: One, what would be least disruptive for the department in terms of transition; two, the Republican Party clearly identified their priority in terms of a candidate and Chris was the number one priority; and three, voters will have an opportunity to make a decision in just a few months."

Struck added that he was pleased with the appointment of Mace.

"He's really on the right track," Struck said. "Chris has really made efforts to build that (KCSO) team."

Modifications in the way Sheriff's Department staff are used are already under way.

"I've been changing and modifying the management process all the way through this," Mace said. "I'm reconstructing our management staff to get a few more people on the road. I want fewer people in the office and more people on the road."

Currently, KCSO has 14 deputies on the road, and Mace wants to see 16 on patrol.

Mace also wants KCSO to have a higher profile at the state level. For example, this week he will travel to Tacoma for a statewide sheriff's conference. He also plans to keep a closer eye on what the Legislature is doing.

"Especially with legislative acts and those kinds of things," Mace explained.

Mace served as KCSO undersheriff for the past two years, and now that he is moving into the sheriff's slot, Mace has named Joe Merry as the new undersheriff.

Unlike at least the previous four sheriffs in Klickitat County, Mace resides in White Salmon. He said he intended to keep it that way, although his duties will call for him to spend four days a week in Goldendale.

He will work out of the county's West End office in White Salmon one day a week.

"And at least every other week I want to take a loop out to the central and eastern parts of the county to visit the communities out there, like I've been doing as undersheriff," he added.

Mace's appointment will carry him until the fall elections, when he will be on the ballot if he decides to run for the office. That is something he said he "definitely" plans to do.

The winner this fall will serve the remaining one year of former Sheriff Kindler's unexpired term. An election for a full four-year term will take place in 2002.

Mace said he was ready to handle the challenge of running the Sheriff's Office.

"I really appreciate everybody's efforts in this process," he explained. "We'll work hard to meet expectations and work hard to keep the confidence they've shown."


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