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Sheriff’S Retirement Announcement Sparks Accusation Of ‘Politics’

Klickitat County Sheriff Rick McComas (left) has announced that he will retire as of June 30. The Klickitat County Republican Party will name three candidates to replace McComas in the interim and hand those choices up to the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners to make the final decision. Both candidates running for sheriff, Undersheriff Marc Boardman (center) and Bob Songer (right), have both expressed interest in being appointed in the interim, but Klickitat County Emergency Management Director Ed Powell has also thrown his hat in the ring for the appointment as interim sheriff.

Klickitat County Sheriff Rick McComas (left) has announced that he will retire as of June 30. The Klickitat County Republican Party will name three candidates to replace McComas in the interim and hand those choices up to the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners to make the final decision. Both candidates running for sheriff, Undersheriff Marc Boardman (center) and Bob Songer (right), have both expressed interest in being appointed in the interim, but Klickitat County Emergency Management Director Ed Powell has also thrown his hat in the ring for the appointment as interim sheriff. Submitted photos

Klickitat County Sheriff Rick McComas will officially retire from his position on June 30, according to a letter submitted to the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners.

The letter, dated June 3, states that McComas will retire as a “personal choice.”

“For no other reason than personal choice related to some ongoing health issues, desire to complete personal projects and prepare for a private employment opportunity I have chosen to retire from my current Sheriff position effective June 30, 2014,” McComas wrote.

Klickitat County Commissioner David Sauter said the letter was submitted to the board at their June 3 meeting. McComas leaves his position after 39 years of law enforcement, the past seven of which have been served as sheriff. McComas defeated an elected incumbent to win election in 2006, then ran unopposed for re-election in 2010.

In his letter, McComas states that after meeting with the current sheriff administration he is assured that the department will be left in good hands and said Undersheriff Marc Boardman, who is running for McComas’s position in the upcoming election, “has displayed an extraordinary ability to work with the employees and union, other law enforcement agencies and county departments and especially the citizens of Klickitat County.”

“There are no complicated projects in place at this time. Future budgetary and/or project plans are well known to the administration and I would foresee a continued positive effort by the administration to address departmental needs with the (Board of County Commissioners),” McComas wrote.

The next Klickitat County Sheriff will be appointed by the Board of County Commissioners after three suggested appointees are named by the Klickitat County Republican Party. The interim sheriff will serve out the remaining 6 months of McComas’ unexpired 4-year term.

Klickitat County Republican Party Chairman John Deo said the Central Committee will meet on July 2 at 6:15 p.m. at the Dallesport Community Center to make the decision on which three candidates will be submitted to the Board of County Commissioners.

According to Deo, both Republican candidates currently running to be the next Klickitat County Sheriff, Bob Songer and Boardman, have expressed interest in being interim sheriff, but that might not be the outcome Republican Party members hope for as Deo said some would rather appoint a neutral interim candidate and let the election results make the decision for who will be permanent sheriff.

Calls and e-mails to Boardman seeking comment were not returned prior to this week’s press deadline.

Ed Powell, Klickitat County’s emergency management director, has also expressed interest in filling the interim sheriff position as that neutral candidate.

“If you think about it this is a difficult position for the commissioners to be in and they shouldn’t have to be made to make the decision between two candidates who are running against each other. This will take a little pressure off of them so the playing field can be even for those candidates vying for the position in the election,” Powell said.

According to a public notice placed by the Klickitat County Republican Party requesting applicant resumes for interim sheriff that ran in this week’s The Enterprise, appointees must be Criminal Justice Training Commission certified, a requirement that neither Powell nor Songer meets. According to Powell, reinstatement of certification can occur through the Criminal Justice Training Commission, however.

Songer also said he believes the appointee should not be either candidate running for sheriff.

“I’m definitely interested in being sheriff of this county, but as a candidate I’ve already got my name out to be sheriff, and I stress that in light of what’s going on with this campaign the commissioners would be much better off to appoint a third party that doesn’t have a horse in the race. Neither Marc nor I should be appointed and instead the commissioners should appoint a third party and let the voters decide,” Songer said.

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