By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Both candidates for Blaine County sheriff hold out their experience as their strongest asset.
Margarett Parman, Blaine County undersheriff for the past five years, has spent 11 years with the sheriff’s department. The Republican’s career in law enforcement stretches back to 1975, when she went to work for the Chickasha Police Department.
“I grew up in southern Oklahoma,” Parman said. “We moved to Blaine County in 1976.”
Democratic candidate Tony Almaguer has been Watonga’s assistant police chief for three of the 18 years he’s been with the department.
“I started in law enforcement in 1990 at my hometown of Hollis,” Almaguer said. “I was a deputy sheriff for about a year and a half, then transferred to Hollis Police Department as assistant chief.”
Almaguer ran for Blaine County Sheriff four years ago, coming to an eventual tie with current sheriff Rick Ainsworth. The election was decided when Ainsworth’s name was drawn out of a hat. Ainsworth is retiring after 16 years.
Parman believes the biggest issue facing the sheriff’s office is the need for additional deputies within budgetary constraints.
“Being in a small area, we — like every department — have budgetary issues,” Parman said. “We have approximately 957 square miles and we are on call 24 /7.”
All of the towns in Blaine County have municipal police departments, Parman said. One of Blaine County’s seven deputies serves the town of Longdale on contract. Another is contracted to Canton Lake five months of the year.
“To me, there are no major issues other than the need for more personnel,” Parman said.
Parman said her emphasis will be on continuing education and ongoing training for department personnel.
“I believe in having well-trained deputies,” Parman said. “Most times, you end up being out there by yourself.”
Almaguer believes the biggest issue facing the sheriff’s office is the need for deputies to do a better job of showing up at county addresses when called.
“I think our challenge is to have better patrol out in the county than we have now,” Almaguer said. “And we need a little more discipline.”
He has gotten to know many rural residents because he works as a cowboy, Almaguer said. Thus, he’s often heard their opinions.
“I’ve seen a lot of things I would have handled differently,” Almaguer said. “I hear complaints about calling the sheriff and having to go to town and fill out a report instead of a deputy coming out to investigate.”
Parman said Blaine County Sheriff’s Office has a well-trained staff, and her long experience in the department makes her the best choice for voters.
“I’ve been there through the up and down, I know the sheriff’s office and the jail,” Parman said. “I’m just the better-qualified candidate.”
“I will see that the deputies do get the proper training to do their jobs and do it correctly,” Almaguer said.