Republican Salt Lake County Sheriff's candidate Aaron Kennard has loaded an aggressive semi-automatic-weapon campaign offensive against three-term incumbent Democrat Sheriff N.D. "Pete" Hayward.
Kennard has outspent, out-publicized - and occasionally outraged - Hayward, who said he's been too busy running his department to do much campaigning in person.Hayward is running a defensive campaign, relying on his tenure in office and network of supporters that is as time-tested as a .38-caliber revolver.
There have been no face-to-face debates in the campaign, but recent appearances by both the candidate and incumbent before the Footprinters, a law enforcement support group, have given added personality to campaign issues.
Hayward defends his campaign posture by saying Kennard has yet to raise a legitimate issue in the campaign. Kennard also fails to understand the ramifications of some of the ideas he proposes, said Hayward.
One of Kennard's attacks on Hayward regards the 65-year-old sheriff's health. Kennard, 47, has played on rumors that Hayward recently suffered two mild heart attacks. Hayward has countered that he hasn't had a health complication for years - a kidney stone once and a "charlie horse" in a heart muscle about 10 years ago.
Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom joined in Hayward's defense Tuesday at the most recent Footprinters speech by accusing Kennard of lying about Hayward's health. Hayward said later that "Yocom's outburst" before the group, which has many Hayward supporters, sidetracked his presentation and kept him from making several important points.
Kennard, a Salt Lake City Police captain and 19-year veteran with the department, also said Hayward's personality has squelched efforts among the county's law enforcement agencies to combine resources and make law enforcement more cost efficient and effective.
Kennard says many police chiefs agree with him, but they can't say anything because they have to work with Hayward as long as he is sheriff. "They haven't endorsed him, but they can't endorse me," Kennard said.
Hayward said Kennard's focus is too narrow when he speaks about shared police services in the valley.
"Sometime in the future there's got to be shared services," Hayward said, "But you've got to be able to take the mayors, city councils and the public and show them it's better and cheaper" to combine efforts. "They say `We want our own identity. We want our own police.' "
Kennard said his first undertaking if elected would be to meet with all area law enforcement officials and criminal justice representatives to find the degree to which they want to share services.
"I've already come out in favor of a valley-wide (police) agency, but I won't force it," Kennard said.
Hayward said having valley-wide police would have the advantage of efficiency, but he has seen police services in other urban counties lose touch with local communities when combined into one agency.
Fighting drugs and drug-related crimes is the top law enforcement priority in the county, Hayward said, but it takes local, neighborhood support. Creating a county-wide police agency could remove some of the local identity the sheriff's department and police departments in incorporated suburbs have developed.
Of the combined task forces currently operating in the county, Hayward said he has pulled his detectives out of the Metro Narcotics Task Force - a move Kennard has criticized - because the group was tying up six or seven of his deputies looking for "big" cases, which left the day-to-day narcotics detective work undone.
"What Kennard doesn't realize is that cooperation goes both ways," Hayward said. "Maybe if they came and helped me once in a while . . . instead of always taking my deputies, it would be different."
Kennard accused Hayward of pulling out because Metro Narcs isn't under the sheriff's control.
Kennard said Friday he didn't realize he had outspent Hayward so far in the campaign, but he figured from looking at the amount Hayward spent campaigning four years ago that he would have to spend about $50,000 to compete with Hayward.
Kennard, so far, has spent almost $35,000, including $10,000 in personal funds he loaned the campaign. Hayward has raised $27,375 and had spent $20,228 as of Tuesday.
The state AFL-CIO has contributed $500 to Hayward's campaign, but labor contributors have split their support in the sheriff's race between both candidates. Police unions in West Valley City, Sandy and Kennard's home department in Salt Lake City have thrown their support to Kennard. All of those unions are AFL-CIO affiliates, Kennard said.