Eight Blaine County residents have applied to become the county's next sheriff.
The Blaine County Republican Central Committee supplied a list of applicants to the Idaho Mountain Express on Monday, following last Friday's deadline for applying. Four of the applicants are full-time Wood River Valley law enforcement officers, two are semi-retired career lawmen and two are local business owners.
GOP committee Chair Ed Terrazas said the committee will meet this week to begin the process of whittling the list down to three. The short list will be provided to the Blaine County Commissioners, who will make the final selection of who will replace Walt Femling.
Femling, a Republican, served as Blaine County's sheriff for 24 years before announcing his resignation for health reasons in early January. The resignation becomes effective March 1.
Three of the applicants—Blaine County Chief Deputy Gene Ramsey, Hailey police Lt. Steve England and former Texas lawman Phil English—earlier publicly announced their intentions to seek the sheriff's job.
The other five applicants are Hailey police patrolmen Larry Clark and Charles Cox, semi-retired FBI agent Frank Hall, Tamarack Sports owner Aaron Hughston and Brent Diehl Construction owner Brent Diehl.
All eight applicants are Republicans.
England, 35, has been a police officer for 13 years. He ran unsuccessfully against Femling in elections in 2004 and 2008.
English, 60, was a lawmen in Texas for 34 years before retiring and moving to Blaine County two years ago.
Ramsey, 61, has 40 years of law enforcement experience. He has served as the county's chief deputy for 30 years.
Clark, 49, has been a policeman for eight years. He served four years in Sun Valley and the last four with the Hailey Police Department. He was in private business for three years after a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy.
"I decided it was time to get back into a uniform," Clark said about his decision to become a policeman.
He has lived in Blaine County since 2003.
"I think Walt's done a good job, but after 24 years they need a new set of eyes," Clark said. "I'm not saying the department's broken—it seems to be running really well."
Cox, 26, has six years of law enforcement experience. Before joining the Hailey Police Department, he worked for the Blaine County Sheriff's Office.
Cox said he decided to apply for the sheriff opening because "I think it would be a fun challenge to take on."
"I've seen both the good and the bad, so I think I've got a good perspective on how to run the department," he said. "It could be run more efficiently. I think I'd be focused on accountability and integrity.
"I love being a cop and serving the community and I plan on doing that for the rest of my life."
Diehl, 48, is the only applicant with no law enforcement experience, but he has extensive management and business experience in the 18 years he's owned and operated his construction company in Hailey. He has lived in Blaine County for 21 years.
He said business experience may be more applicable than law enforcement experience for running the Sheriff's Office.
"I don't think it's all Wyatt Earp anymore," Diehl said. "Being sheriff is more of a business operation.
"I want to look out for the best interest of Blaine County residents and for their safety."
Hall, 68, moved to Blaine County in 1999 after a 30-year career as a special agent with the FBI. Originally from Pocatello, Hall has family in the Wood River Valley and has been a frequent visitor throughout his life.
He was a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War.
Hall now flies chartered jets and continues to operate Franklin & Associates Investigation and Consulting Services, providing contract work to the FBI in Idaho and Puerto Rico. He has also been involved in investigations locally.
"I have a strong background in law enforcement, and the opportunity presented itself so I thought I'd put my name in the mix," Hall said.
Hughston, 41, is the owner of Tamarack Sports in Hailey. He is not a certified police officer but has four years of law enforcement experience as a volunteer reserve officer or cadet in California. He has lived in Blaine County for about six years.
Hughston said business and management experience "give me a unique perspective."
"I don't think you need to be a career law enforcement to be a good sheriff," he said. "He's [Femling] done a fantastic job and the reason I want to be sheriff is to maintain what we have and bring in a new perspective. I feel I could bring something new to the table.
"It's a very important event, and whoever we bring in we want to make sure responds to the needs of the valley."
Terry Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org