Controversial Latah County Sheriff Joe Overstreet will face at least three challengers if he runs for re-election next year.
Overstreet has been sued by employees he fired, survived a recall petition and agreed to talk with county commissioners about budget issues only after he was served a subpoena.
Although the filing period does not begin until March 25, a former detective on Overstreet’s staff, Ken Piel, and Moscow Police Officer Jeff Crouch, both of Moscow, have named campaign treasurers, which is a necessary step in Idaho to spend or receive campaign funds. Piel is running as a Republican, Crouch as a Democrat.
On Monday, Norm Van Ness, who has served in the Latah County Sheriff’s Office for 18 years, announced that he plans to run as a Democrat.
“I have worked for five sheriffs, folks, and I will be the sixth with your help,” Van Ness said on the courthouse steps. He is a logistics sergeant and has been a baliff and jail commander.
Van Ness said that during the campaign he will be able to work well with the man he hopes to unseat.
“I had a long talk with Sheriff Overstreet. Joe was a friend of mine prior to becoming sheriff. I advised him I will give 100 percent for this department. I will not let down in that duty.”
Van Ness gave no specifics about how he would differ from Overstreet if he’s elected sheriff. He did say he intends to rebuild relations with the county commission.
“I have been here a long time and have worked a long time with these people. We have always gotten along well,” he said.
“I’ve always been able to talk with previous commissioners.”
For his announcement, Van Ness wore a dark blazer and a tie emblazoned with cartoon characters. County residents who served on juries from 1986 to ‘93 would recognize that outfit. Such loud ties were Van Ness’ signature when he was a popular bailiff in both magistrate’s and district court.
“I have a great deal of respect for Norm, having worked with him in his capacity as bailiff,” said Craig Mosman, a former Latah County prosecutor who will manage Van Ness’ campaign. “A lot of us who work around the courthouse have come to like and admire Norm.”