See sheriff. See Sheriff Jim. Run Sheriff Jim! Run, run, run! What you leave behind as your cronies scramble to oust 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall is an empty, faux leather chair waiting to be filled by one of four men eager to be the next great authority figure in Dodge.

Jim Thomas, Santa Barbara County’s sheriff for the past 12 years, will be leaving office in 2003. His intentions have turned political, running against Marshall in an election this summer and relying on others to throw the shit for him so he doesn’t have to get his own hands dirty. Now, Lt. Ugo “Butch” Arnoldi, retired Undersheriff Dave Dorsey, Detective Roger Aceves and Commander Jim Anderson are running for the position of Santa Barbara County sheriff.

At first glance, the men all look the same. Large foreheads and receding hairlines, a neatly trimmed yet manly growth of hair below the nose, and an ill-defined chin mark each of the four candidates.

Behind the rather bland fatherly appearances, however, is an array of men courting the county in preparation for the election next month.

Bachelor number one, Dave Dorsey, has been in and out of the law enforcement game twice, once in 1980 when he turned to the private sector and then again in 1999 after working as Thomas’ right-hand chimp. In 1990, he was one of Thomas’ loudest opponents, but changed his tune once appointed undersheriff. Dorsey has received flack in the past for some major boo-boos: five inmates escaped from the county jail in 1998 and a couple of high-powered machine guns were stolen from the department’s firing range in 1999. Despite this, Dorsey has the backing of Jim Thomas. The taste of power in the past is what’s driving Dorsey to be the biggest gun-totin’ ape in the jungle.

Commander Jim Anderson is bachelor number two, and he looks like a nice enough guy. Wisely enough, he wants to stay away from any sort of politics and instead wants to focus on finding a site for the North County Jail and pumping time and energy into a frivolous drug war. If there’s anything that Sheriff Jim has shown us, however, it is that the position and politics are more than just fuck buddies.

Bachelor number three is Detective Roger Aceves, the sole democrat and probably the least likely to win the election. In the organizing and budgeting tasks he’s been given, most notably last year’s Old Spanish Days, he’s proven himself more than competent. Aceves is also pushing for more diversity in departmental positions. It sounds good, and it’s a shame that he doesn’t stand much of a chance against the other candidates.

Finally, filling out the ranks as bachelor number four is Ugo “Butch” Arnoldi. Looking a bit too much like the bumbling Milton from “Office Space” for comfort, Arnoldi seems to be the most I.V.-friendly of the four. Arnoldi came to the I.V. Foot Patrol in 1998 and stayed for three years before transferring to Carpinteria. During his three years in I.V., our little college berg saw a decline in violent crimes and sexual assaults, something that Carpinteria has seen since Arnoldi’s transfer there. He’s down to earth, critical of Sheriff Jim’s organizational skills and, for now, seemingly politic free.

Of the four running, Arnoldi seems to offer the most to Santa Barbara County, and hopefully he’ll be able to beat out Dorsey and bring some not-quite-new-but-still-refreshing blood to the position.

Plus it would be cool to have a sheriff named Butch.

Whoever you like, just make sure you peel off those calluses left by the media’s ad nauseam coverage of the New War and vote next month.

Daily Nexus columnist Steven “Butch” Ruszczycky talks shit every Tuesday here on the Opinion page.