Wednesday Oct 13 2010
El Dorado County Sheriff hopefuls go on attack
By: Raheem Hosseini Telegraph Correspondent
Therkildsen, D’Agostini in homestretch of campaigns
With only weeks to go before the general election, the two remaining candidates for El Dorado County sheriff have watched a once gentlemanly race devolve into fiery politicking and harsh accusations. El Dorado County sheriff’s Capt. Craig Therkildsen’s supporters struck first, brandishing an audio recording of a campaign meet-and-greet opponent John D’Agostini held at PJ’s Roadhouse in Placerville before an audience made up primarily of members of the Modified Motorcycle Association. Asked how he would handle dishonest or corrupt officers in his administration, D’Agostini, a district attorney investigator in Amador County, used a strongly worded metaphor, saying he wouldn’t “have any problem with ripping somebody’s head off, putting it on a pole and parading it around and saying, ‘This will not be tolerated.’” The recording was made by an undercover El Dorado County sheriff’s officer who was ostensibly investigating alleged gang ties to the club. The leak prompted a sharp rebuke from El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson, who joined county supervisors Ron Briggs and John Knight in endorsing Therkildsen, a veteran sheriff’s captain. D’Agostini has won support from county Supervisor Ray Nutting, state Assemblyman Dan Logue and Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto, among others. At the Sept. 28 Board of Supervisors meeting, more than a dozen outraged MMA members defended their motorcycle rights group against aspersions that it was tied to organized motorcycle gang activities. In a harshly worded letter to the Telegraph, Briggs seized on the public comments and said D’Agostini’s own “reckless statement will cost the county money each and every time a disciplinary action is taken by him.” For his part, D’Agostini, second-in-command of an Amador County narcotic task force, refused to comment on the attacks, attributing them to desperation. “I don’t think it’s that close,” he said of the race. “I think we’re ahead and they know that.” D’Agostini supporters have accused local officials of building a firewall around an establishment candidate in Therkildsen, with Amador County law enforcement officials privately telling reporters that undercover intelligence information is only ever released when warrants are issued or arrests are made. As a result, two candidates whose public policy decisions aren’t all that different have entered the home stretch trying to delineate their differences. “Both of us, as individuals, are miles apart,” insisted Therkildsen, commander of the county jail, who has focused on his “tremendous amount of experience in this community and with this agency.” D’Agostini claimed “a fundamental difference in my approach,” stressing a customer service style of law enforcement that has officers interacting with residents and knowing the community. “We’ll be breaking down those walls that have been built up over the years,” he added. On their different approaches to leadership — and little else — the two candidates agree.