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Froehlich to take on Sickler

A Navy veteran who retired after a three-decade career in law enforcement announced his candidacy Monday for Jackson County sheriff.

William Froehlich, 67, of Gold Hill, moved to the Rogue Valley from Utah six years ago. He worked in law enforcement for West Valley City, Utah, from 1990 to 2008, when he retired as a lieutenant. His experience includes training coordinator, domestic violence investigator and a K-9 unit supervisor, among other roles.

He'll challenge Sheriff Nate Sickler, who was appointed a year ago after the departure of Corey Falls. Sickler filed for election last fall but has not yet made a formal announcement.

An active contributor to the local “scanner group” on Facebook, Froehlich said he started writing online columns and networking with community groups to discuss public safety. If elected, Froehlich said he would provide accountability and open communication to enable citizens, county officials and all facets of the community to work together to solve the county’s issues with homelessness, drugs and crime.

On the top of his list of projects he'd tackle if elected is a too-small county jail, breakdowns between available resources and poor planning.

“My concerns developed from living here and just being very concerned with what I was seeing. It’s been very different, to have a law enforcement perspective, to sit back and watch the interaction between law enforcement and citizens compared to where I came from,” he said.

“The opinion seems to be that citizens don’t feel they are being taken care of. It’s important to effectively use your resources. I think the public, and level of public trust in an agency, is a good barometer of what kind of job you’re doing. The public, right now, is not happy with the service they’re receiving.”

As sheriff, Froehlich said he would provide transparency, noting, “If I can’t give someone an answer, I’ll go find it for them.”

One of six candidates who applied in December 2016 when Falls left his post to accept a position in Gresham, Froehlich was asked by scanner group members to seek office. His campaign manager, Ryan Mallory, is a co-owner of the Facebook group.

“There are not a whole lot of good things to say about how the sheriff’s office is currently organized. When I use the term ‘organized,’ I’m talking about the ability to lay out a plan, facilitate that plan and follow through, and involve the public in what you’re doing,” said Froehlich, noting he trouble-shoots both short and long-term solutions.

“It’s like a big wagon wheel. You have the hub in the middle and all these folks around the center. I’m the guy in the middle, so it’s my job to use input and feedback from the citizens, businesses, advocacy groups and everyone else and bring everyone to the table to work together.”

Froehlich holds a master’s degree in management from the University of Phoenix, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and abnormal psychology from Weber State University and has served as an instructor for Idaho State University in vocational law enforcement.

Sickler said he was aware of Froehlich’s bid for office prior to Monday’s announcement. Sickler said many of Froehlich’s stated goals are already priorities of the department, including providing services and planning future needs despite limited resources. Sickler said he quietly filed for election in October but was “focusing on the job” instead of campaigning.

“I don’t know what Mr. Froehlich would hope to accomplish that we aren’t already doing," Sickler said. "My primary focus has been the agency. I’ve tried to keep it very apolitical. There are allowances for a sheriff to campaign, kind of in uniform, because it’s an elected position, but my total focus throughout this year will still be on this agency. At the end of the day, I was elected to do a job by the commissioners for the citizens so I’m going to just continue to do that job.

“I think the work product and the things we are doing will speak for themselves come November. We have a very professional criminal justice system in Jackson County and I think people will see we are doing as much as we can with what very little we have.”

Froehlich and Sickler are the only candidates to have filed for sheriff so far; the deadline is March 6. If no other candidates file, they will be considered the nominees and will face off in November. If more candidates file, the candidate who wins a majority of the votes in the primary goes on to the general election; if none gets a majority, then the two candidates with the highest votes will run in November.

— Reach Medford freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Bill Froehlich