In this election cycle I had no intention of taking a position in the Riverside County Sheriffs race. Although Sheriff Stan Sniff has been a supporter of the LGBT community he has taken some other positions that I vehemently disagree with such as his conservative stance on immigration and his close relationship with the NRA.
I was going to just not mark the “Sheriff Box” on my ballot. Something happened a week ago that totally changed my mind.
As we all are reminded on a daily basis of the hard truth from 2016, elections have consequences. They touch the fabric of our lives in so many ways. We may think that as law-abiding residents that the person in the Sheriff’s seat will have little impact on our lives, but in reality every elected official does.
As individuals get elected to office they have views that are so out of touch with the community they serve, they empower others to seek leadership positions. And, before you blink you have an entire body of people espousing hate speak and discriminatory rhetoric. It becomes the norm. You have to look no further than what has happened in Washington, D.C. , as the lemmings follow the machinations of the current President.
It is time now for all of us to speak out and demand that individuals seeking public office not only be qualified for the office they seek but that they also recognize that our communities are made up of a richly diverse population that has the right to rely on public officials and law enforcement to protect and honor our lives, understand our challenges, and respect our diversity.
I consider myself very fortunate to live in Palm Springs and also to have worked as an elected official serving the citizens of this incredible city. I have also proudly touted the continuing endorsement of the Palm Springs Police Offers Association (PSPOA) each time I was a candidate and worked closely with the men and women that put their lives on the line for us daily.
Our police department under the leadership of Chief Bryan Reyes has set a new standard for community policing. The PSPOA when it was under the leadership of Sgt. William Hutcheson was an integral and trusted part of the community and a big part of forging a bond of trust with the residents.
You would not normally assume from LGBT history that the “Gayest City” in the world would have that relationship with its Police Department. We went through some very tough and public battles and scandals to get to that point but working together and honoring each other, we eventually did.
So, when I saw that the PSPOA had endorsed Chad Bianco for Sheriff I naturally wanted to get to know more about him. My first response was hurt and disappointment in the leadership of the PSPOA for endorsing this man and my next response was anger. Anger in that an individual who espoused beliefs that seemed so antithetical to that of our community would be endorsed to be put into a position that controls the entire Sheriffs department of Riverside County.
Besides having little to no experience or education to oversee a budget and staffing the size of many larger cities, he also seems to be totally out of touch with the voters of Riverside County.
In a recent questionnaire that he answered he longingly laments that the great conservative values of Orange County are lost here in Riverside. He goes further in the questionnaire to say that he is either against protecting the rights of immigrants or he really does not understand the true meaning of Sanctuary Cities. He is concerned about the long disproved problem of widespread fraudulent voter registration, he is anti-choice, he believes that employers should have the right to provide healthcare according to their religious beliefs thereby eliminating birth control and gay health services if it is in someone’s religious belief.
He believes that cannabis grows and dispensaries are illegal and has pledged to eliminate them even though the voters of this state disagree and have said so in their vote. He believes that government should only recognize the biology of the individual at birth and not allow for gender preference thus endangering the lives of our transgender brothers and sisters. He believes that states should make their own laws without regard to what constitutes a civil marriage even if they decided to disallow homosexual marriage, he is against schools having the right to teach sex education without parental consent and he is for school vouchers.
Those are all stances that he signed his name to in answers to a questionnaire by the California Republican Assembly, an ultra-conservative organization that considers itself the “conscience of the Republican Party”. Bianco is also backed by a right wing conservative blog called Right On Daily which has published numerous homophobic rants which he has not disavowed.
His line of defense is that he has a gay brother so how can he be homophobic – to which I respond – so that means if the President has a rapper in the Oval Office then he is not a racist – that means that everyone who has a Jewish friend is not an anti-Semite and everyone that has a sister or a mother can’t be a misogynist.
This brings me once again to my position on the Riverside County Sheriff’s race and the fact that elections do have consequences. I am convinced that they only way to continue to make progress in my community is to cast my vote for Sheriff Stan Sniff and dedicate myself to educating him on some of the areas that we disagree.