As the June 6 elections approach, three local law enforcement officers are preparing to challenge current Sheriff-Coroner Jim Anderson for his position.

Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. Lt. Ugo “Butch” Arnoldi, Lompoc Police Chief Bill Brown and retired Santa Barbara Sheriff-Coroner Jim Thomas are running against Anderson for the position. As sheriff-coroner, the winner of the election will serve as the head law enforcement officer in the county and will oversee the entire Sheriff’s Dept.

All three of Anderson’s opponents have argued that the current sheriff has failed to provide local law enforcement with the leadership it needs to effectively police the county. Anderson, in contrast, said he thinks he has done an effective job in running the department, citing a drop in the county’s crime rate in the past three years. He said the department has also secured more funding to hire new deputies and build new facilities.

“My number one priority is safety in the community,” Anderson said. “I think I’ve done a pretty good job.”

Thomas, who held the sheriff-coroner position between 1990 and 2002, said he decided to run after the candidate he planned to endorse, Dominick Palera, dropped out of the race. He said he thinks Anderson has demonstrated poor leadership skills and said he disagrees with the current administration’s policies.

“The lack of leadership is something we have all discussed,” Thomas said. “There has been a lot of poor decision making recently. The latest decisions concerning the immigration issue were atrocious.”

If reelected, Thomas said he wants to reinstate the Drug Awareness Resistance Education program and begin attending Sheriff’s Council meetings, both of which he said Anderson failed to do during his tenure.

Brown, who has served as the Lompoc police chief for almost 11 years, said he thinks Anderson has failed to unite the various personnel in the department. According to, Brown hopes to improve recruitment and retention within the department’s staff, as well as reform the county jail system to reduce overcrowding.

“I believe there’s a real need for strong executive leadership because the department is so split internally,” Brown said. “The department needs a qualified leader from the outside to create a more proactive office.”

In addition to serving terms as the president of the California Police Chiefs Association and the chairman of the Santa Barbara County Law Enforcement Chiefs Association, Brown said he has worked in various police departments across the nation since 1977, including time he spent as a police chief in Idaho, where he patrolled the University of Idaho campus. His experience in working with a campus police dept., he said, will help him over see law enforcement in Isla Vista.

“There are only two to three police departments in the nation that are contracted to university campuses,” Brown said. “I think working with the campus in Idaho gave me a really unique perspective that would help me deal with issues in Isla Vista.”

Brown’s platform, according to, also includes restoring the county’s drug and gang prevention programs.

Arnoldi, a UCSB alumnus and Sheriff’s Dept. deputy since 1973, said he has worked under four different sheriff-coroners and said he thinks Santa Barbara law enforcement deserves better leadership.

“I reach out to everybody because they’re part of the community,” Arnoldi said. “I don’t believe in politics. The politics I’m talking about are what is happening now – ‘you kiss my ass and I’ll give you something.’ I absolutely don’t believe in that.”

Arnoldi said communicating with local residents is one of his top priorities. He said his experiences working in Santa Barbara, including the time he spent overseeing the I.V. Foot Patrol, taught him that each section of the county has distinct needs.

“Each community is unique and different; what works in Goleta won’t work in Isla Vista,” Arnoldi said. “We need to have town meetings so we can see how you want to be policed.”

Arnoldi said he thinks the current sheriff-coroner is not touch with his department or his constituents.

“Unfortunately, Santa Barbara has had an absentee sheriff,” Arnoldi said. “He forgot who elected him and he isn’t open to criticism. You can’t operate a 700 person department by saying, ‘Boss, everything you say is right.'”

Anderson, according to, intends to put more deputies on the street and more correction officers in the county jails, if he is reelected. “Constructing and operating a new jail in northern Santa Barbara County” and increasing “community involvement in Disaster Preparedness preparation” are among his other top priorities.

Anderson said he thinks his opponents focus on personal attacks, rather than issues surrounding the race. Anderson said he does not think his opponents should be attacking his personality. He said he thinks the race should be more focused on each candidate’s record.

“My opponents have been very negative, and I have been focusing on the facts and my record,” Anderson said. “I haven’t been slamming them. I don’t appreciate it, and I don’t agree with what they say.”

For more info on the candidates for the sheriff-coroner race, visit