Statesman Editorial: Capt. Steve Bartlett is best suited to replace Raney as Ada County sheriff

So far it has been an orderly transition in Ada County as the respective parties consider candidates to replace Sheriff Gary Raney, whose resignation is effective June 30.

A meeting of the Ada County Republican Central Committee on Tuesday resulted in two names being forwarded to the Ada County Board of Commissioners, who are tasked over the next 10 days or so to name a sheriff to fill out the roughly 18 months remaining in Raney’s term.

Randy Folwell, a 28-year veteran of the Ada County department who retired as a captain in 2011, nosed out Raney’s preferred successor, Steve Bartlett, in that political setting. Bartlett, also a captain, has 12 years in the agency and experience serving as police chief in Eagle.

We don’t know what the deal breaker was that caused the GOP to order the candidates the way they did, but that’s not the way we rank them.

If you appreciate the work and stellar reputation of Raney, you have to appreciate and respect his recommendation for a successor. Both candidates worked for him. Who knows the most about their performance? That would be Raney. We appreciate Raney’s endorsement, so Bartlett is our choice, and we urge the county commissioners to choose him as well.

People in the know, including Raney, agree that Folwell and Bartlett have well-rounded experience and stack up similarly on paper. But the separation begins by asking which one is more engaged in what is going on in the department today. It’s not Folwell, who left four years ago.

We applaud Folwell for wanting to get back into public service, but this is a fairly short appointment, which will be interrupted by an election toward the end. Who better to guide the department to that point than a person who is plugged in? That would be Bartlett.

If there was something wrong in the department — some insurrection or scandal — we might be looking for outside candidates, but we are not aware of any such problems. That’s not to say Raney is without detractors and critics, and his successor won’t be, either.

We have the same question about Folwell that Raney has: “If somebody retires four years ago, what draws them back into a job that is half again as intense as the one that he left?”

Being Ada County sheriff is a demanding job, if it is done right — with full days, full nights and lots of community interaction.

Who is ready to lead?

“Steve (Bartlett) has proven he can be effective at leading. He knows the current issues,” Raney said during a conversation Thursday. “He has the support of the agency and our partner law enforcement agencies.”

Bartlett is on top of the $21 million in capital improvements the department has on tap. He just returned from Washington, D.C., where a grant request he authored was one of 20 accepted (from a competitive field of 192 jurisdictions).

After the commissioners complete their due diligence, we believe they will see in Bartlett what Raney already sees: the next Ada County sheriff, who will hit the ground running and gradually take the department to the next level.

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idahostatesman.com.