Among the five candidates, Christopher Adams Bender, 36, is the only Democrat running for Gila County sheriff.

Bender says he is running to serve all citizens of the county.

“I want to see the sheriff’s office thrive and be considered one of the best law enforcement agencies in the state,” he said. “I truly believe that it does not matter whether you are Republican, Democrat or independent. My platform is Office of the Gila County Sheriff ... All or any other political views will not be a concern of mine because the sheriff needs to remain solely focused on the duties of his office.”

Bender said he is running because he does not believe the current sheriff is doing a suitable job.

When Bender worked for the Gila County Sheriff’s Office (he served seven years with the GCSO) he said the office was a family environment where everyone was treated with honor and respect.

“The current sheriff has arguably caused the morale of the sheriff’s office to reach an all-time low and (he has) lost the respect and trust of the citizens,” he said. “I’m running because Gila County deserves better!”

Bender started his law enforcement career in the United States Air Force as a military police officer. After, he served as a deputy sheriff in the state of Missouri, then seven years with the GCSO. He then transitioned to a supervisor for the San Carlos Apache Tribal Police and serves as a patrol sergeant with the Miami Police Department, where he performs all administrative duties involving the patrol division. He has lived in Gila County since 2006.

If elected, Bender says he has a plan to fix the current state of the GCSO.

Jail improvements

“There have been ongoing issues within the Gila County Detention Center, to include prisoners being released by mistake and citizens being detained for 16 days after judges ordered their release. Furthermore, mental health assessments have been denied to inmates after being ordered by local courts. Some people may not care what happens to those in jail, yet we should care since we all have to pay for those lawsuits.”

Leadership change

“The current administration has a “me first” belief with command staff all driving new taxpayer funded cars, while patrol deputies are driving vehicles with 250,000 miles. I learned in the military that good leaders put their staff, who perform the direct services of patrol, investigations, and jail operations, first. The county needs leadership that will be actively involved within the community and work alongside the citizens.”

Service to the community

“The citizens of Gila County deserve nothing but the best when it comes to law enforcement, period. It is known that the mismanagement of the sheriff’s office has made it where there is only one patrol deputy on most shifts for all of southern Gila County. This results in response times exceeding 20 minutes for high priority emergencies, and several hours for non-emergency calls. The citizens have lost trust and respect for the Gila County Sheriff’s Office and cannot count on the administration to do what’s right.”

Besides these issues, Bender says he will work to improve school safety by introducing more student resources officers.

He will also host community roundtables so residents can ask questions and get information from staff.

“I will be a working sheriff, active in the community, side-by-side with my deputies. I will reconnect and rebuild the relationship with the citizens and the sheriff’s office.”

For more information, visit www.benderforsheriff.com or Facebook-benderforsheriff.

Contact the editor at abechman@payson.com

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(1) comment

Joel Sherwood

Mr. Bender! Thank you for your service sir.

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