Hood River Police Sgt. Neal Holste has announced he plans to run for Hood River County Sheriff in the May 2012 election.
"It's been my goal," said Holste, a Hood River valley native and 17-year law enforcement veteran. "I'm in with both feet.
"I have a passion for law enforcement and a passion for this community," said Holste, who announced via Facebook that he hopes to succeed Sheriff Joe Wampler, who said Monday he is unsure if he will run for election.
Wampler hired Holste in 1994 as reserve officer after Holste earned his associate degree in criminal justice from Clackamas Community College in 1992.
Holste, who turns 40 in May, said, "I remember telling (Wampler) 'some day I'd like to take your place,'" Holste said.
Holste said he has been approached by citizens, including fellow Columbia River fishermen, asking "When is it your turn?"
"I'm not getting any younger, so I feel this is my time," Holste said.
"I feel like there need to be some changes made. I'd like to see good communications with other departments; not that it's not that way now, but I'd like to see more presence in the schools than just when we are there to do enforcement."
He said "the budget, and from that, staffing," is the biggest challenge facing the sheriff's department. He would consider pursuing federal grants for staffing positions such as a school resource officer.
"With the marketplace the way it is, there are so many people out there who want the experience," said Holste. He would strive to find ways to maintain two-deputy coverage 24/7.
He and and his wife, Amanda, are parents to four boys, age 8 to 16.
After two years as a deputy, including marine patrol, Holste joined the police department in 1996. He was promoted to sergeant in 2001 and was recently appointed administratiave sergeant.
Holste has an Advanced Certificate and Supervisor Certificate from the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. He is also a member of Oregon Association Chiefs of Police.
According to Holste's Facebook profile, his duties have included departmental budget, vehicle fleet supervisor, grant coordinator, scheduling background investigator, policy and procedure development and review, evaluation of personnel involvement in use of force, pursuits and other critical incidents, and public safety, enforcement and investigations.
In recent years Holste has traveled to Thailand, Cambodia and Guatemala, working with non-governmental organizations.
For details on Holste, check firstname.lastname@example.org or on facebook at: www.facebook.com/holste4sheriff
Wampler has been sheriff since 1992; he won a fifth term in 2008 in a tight race with former Sheriff's Department Det. Bob Davidson.
Asked Monday about his plans, Wampler said, "Put me down as unsure.
"I think I have a plan, but it depends on how things look in the next few months," Wampler said. "If I don't see anybody in there that I feel have a good vision for the county, I may decide to try again.
"After I see who the candidates are, and what their visions are for the county, I'll be better prepared to make my own personal plans."
Holste said he met with Wampler to let him know he would run, but Wampler said he has not talked extensively with Holste about his decision.
"I've said that I'm taking a look at saying 'This is it for me,' but I just can't make that decision until I know more," Wampler said.