Voters in Walla Walla County have some highly qualified and capable candidates to choose from when they elect a new Sheriff on November 6th. We agree with the Walla Walla Union Bulletin when they said the real winners in this race are the people of Walla Walla County. Either candidate would serve the people of Walla Walla County well.
Mark Crider is new to the Walla Walla Valley. After graduating from high school in Ontario, Ohio, Crider went on to study agriculture at Ohio State University. He enlisted in the US Navy and served for ten years. In 1996, Crider graduated from the FBI Training Academy and worked for the Bureau for 22 years. Among his roles within the FBI, Crider served as a law enforcement instructor and FBI Special Agent-In-Charge. He moved to Walla Walla County in March, when Sheriff John Turner appointed him to serve as his Undersheriff.
Matthew Stroe is a Walla Walla native. He graduated from Walla Walla High School in 1996 and went on to study criminal justice at Walla Walla Community College. Stroe graduated with a Bachelors degree from Western Washington University in 2002. He has worked as a para-educator to special needs students, a detention officer for the Walla Walla County Juvenile Justice Center, a deputy and crime analyst technician (sex offender program) for the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office and currently serves as the Director of Security for Whitman College. Stroe grew up in a law enforcement household. His father, Mike Stroe, is a thirty year veteran of the Walla Walla Police Department.
Crider and Stroe both possess highly qualified resumes. They both have the endorsement of scores of law enforcement officials with hundreds of years of combined experience. In the primary election, we endorsed Mark Crider. Over the course of the campaign, we have watched and listened for what sets the two candidates apart. Regardless of what voters decide, Walla Walla County will be well served. But, here’s why we are now endorsing Matt Stroe for Walla Walla’s next Sheriff.
Stroe is a native of Walla Walla County who understands the challenges that our community faces. He has decades of experience with people that live and work here. He earned our endorsement when he announced at the Candidate Forum on October 11th, that he believed the sheriff’s department should look like the community that it serves. Currently the twenty-four person force has only two women, even though women make up nearly half of the population in Walla Walla County.
We were disappointed that Crider’s response to the issue was to assert that “there are no funds in the budget” to recruit a force that looks like the people it serves. It’s unfair to expect women, people of color, and LGBTQ voters to support a candidate that cannot commit to serving all of them, including in department recruitment. Stroe, without hesitation, said he believed the force should “absolutely look like the community it serves.” This is the Walla Walla way, and proves that Stroe has his finger on the pulse of our community.
As Sheriff, Stroe will focus on using his expertise to secure our local schools and work with community health experts to address mental health and substance abuse issues. He has pledged to be fully transparent in his decisions and plans to work to strengthen the department. We’re with Matt, because as Sheriff he will be fighting for ALL of us.