By JOE BRITTON
City News Service
The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to appoint San Diego County Undersheriff Bill Gore as interim sheriff to replace Bill Kolender, who is retiring midterm next month.
Gore will become interim sheriff on July 3, pending the results of a credit and background check.
The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to approve the appointment. Supervisor Ron Roberts was absent for the vote.
"I do feel in my vote that there was one individual, William Gore, that I think, in my mind, really stood out as somebody that was certainly in the best position to pick up from Sheriff Kolender,'' Supervisor Greg Cox said.
The appointment was not expected Tuesday.
Tuesday's hearing was intended as an opportunity for the candidates to tout their accomplishments, before supervisors narrowed the pool for a final confirmation vote next week.
Because only Gore was able to secure the required three votes of support, supervisors opted to waive next week's scheduled hearing and instead make their selection.
Gore, a 61-year-old former FBI agent, said his priority as interim sheriff will be be public safety and department integrity.
"My pledge to you would be a simple one,'' Gore told the supervisors before the vote. "I want to make San Diego County the safest urban county in the United States, bar none.''
Also seeking the interim sheriff appointment were James Duffy, a former sheriff's lieutenant and Roberts' chief of staff; Jay La Suer, a former undersheriff and past state legislator; and veteran Sheriff's Department lawmen Randall Dibb and Gregory Reynolds.
Kolender, 73, who was first elected sheriff in 1994, announced his resignation in April. His term would have expired next year. Kolender has endorsed Gore for sheriff.
Gore, Duffy, La Suer, former San Diego Police Department Chief David Bejarano and former sheriff's Sgt. Bruce Ruff have declared themselves candidates for sheriff in 2010.
Reynolds argued that it should be someone other than a candidate on the 2010 ballot who is appointed interim sheriff.
"There is no way a sitting sheriff in an interim position can maintain day-to-day operational control of a department when he is involved in such a campaign as he is going to be in the near future,'' Reynolds said.
Others argued that the appointment is unfair given that historically unseating an interim sheriff has been difficult, suggesting that Kolender's successor was preordained.
"Prior to the last sheriff's election, Sheriff Kolender assured us that he had no plans to retire and that he would fill this entire term despite the public records of his health issues preventing him from actually doing his duties,'' a representative from Ordinary California Citizens Concerned With Safety told the supervisors.
"Since that last election, OCCCWS has received numerous reports from inside the Sheriff's Department that, in fact, Sheriff Kolender has only been serving in a titular role in the department, and that it's actually being run by its designated heir, Undersheriff Gore,'' the group's representative said.
"It appears that the statements made by Sheriff Kolender were not merely incorrect, but were in fact intended to set up the situation we are facing today - anointing a successor to Kolender and denying the public a free and fair election,'' the speaker said.