Politics & Government

Hinshaw, Easter, Weinman reflect on sheriff race

The day after Sedgwick County voters rejected Sheriff Bob Hinshaw three to one in the Republican primary, he sounded as if he was taking the loss in stride.

“I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time thinking about it because it does no good,” Hinshaw said Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t think you could point to any one thing. It was probably a multitude of factors.”

Hinshaw, who was seeking a second term after being elected in 2008, noted that a controversy arose over the Sedgwick County Jail a month and a half before the election. The controversy involved a sheriff’s jail deputy, David Kendall, who has been charged with aggravated sodomy and other sex crimes against six inmates, according to documents. Kendall has resigned, and Hinshaw has defended his office’s handling of the investigation. But his opponent, Wichita police Capt. Jeff Easter, has said the Sheriff’s Office should have notified the District Attorney’s Office sooner of the Kendall investigation. In his campaign, Easter referred to allegations of “cover-up” at the jail and said the jail needs to be better managed.

Hinshaw, 54, also sounded philosophical about his loss.

“I think cops in general and first responders … everybody wants to be liked. But especially in law enforcement, you’ve got to learn not to take anything personal,” he said. “When you take it personally, you start reacting from an emotional response instead of an objective response, and that never ends well.”

Easter said Wednesday afternoon that his resounding victory means voters believed in his message and “believed there needed to be change.”

After the vote came in Tuesday night, Easter said it appeared he would be the next sheriff, even though he still faces Democrat Jefrey Weinman in the November general election. Weinman was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

On Wednesday afternoon, Easter said he wasn’t assuming anything about the upcoming race and that he will resume campaigning in about two weeks and campaign through November.

“Complacency never gets anybody anywhere,” Easter said.

Easter said he will raise the same issues, including leadership and the jail controversy, in the general election. The jail will still be an issue in the general election because jail services and management need to improve, Easter said.

Easter, 44, noted that he and Weinman, a retired Wichita police officer, graduated from the same police academy class in December 1989. Easter said Weinman doesn’t have any management experience in law enforcement while he has extensive management experience, including his current assignment as commander of the Patrol North bureau.

Weinman, 51, acknowledged Wednesday that he doesn’t have management experience but said he has had leadership roles as an officer. He said he had to retire because of an on-duty injury.

It is Weinman’s first run for office, and he has not actively campaigned. “I’m not a politician. I’m a servant of this community,” he said.

Weinman said that right before Christmas of 2011, God told him “He wanted mercy for people in jail.”

“God told me to run for office, and I’ve done it. ... God has a wide-vision plan for the jail and this community. … It’s not about me. … He said to run for sheriff.”

Hinshaw said he was already making a list of things to do before he leaves office, including the transition to an Easter administration, and that he is assuming that Easter will win in November. Hinshaw said he expects to invite Easter to lunch and pass information to him and let Easter ask questions, in an effort to ease the transition.

Hinshaw said he expects Easter would bring in his own command staff.

Hinshaw is in his 33rd year with the Sheriff’s Office. As for his future, after he leaves the sheriff’s job, Hinshaw said, “It’s really wide open. There are a lot of opportunities out there. I know I enjoy teaching. I’ve got a pretty good resume.”

He said he also was looking forward to taking time off after he leaves office, “for as long as my wife lets me.”

And after more than three decades in law enforcement, a break will be a relief, Hinshaw said.

No more “calls in the middle of the night.” No more worrying “about my people getting hurt on the job.”

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