Three years after handily winning the Shoshone County sheriff’s seat, Dan Schierman is locked in a tight three-way re-election race against a couple of scrappy ex-cops.
Schierman faces off in next month’s Democratic primary against Larry Irvine, who retired in 1988 after 24 years with the Las Vegas Police Department.
Whoever wins the May 28 primary will face Osburn security company owner Tim Castle, running as an Independent in the November election. There is no Republican candidate.
Raised in Kellogg, Irvine moved to Kingston in 1992, after stints as an airline fraud investigator and bar owner.
Irvine, running an aggressive, well-organized campaign, paints Schierman’s department as a ship without a rudder.
“I’ve talked to most of the people who’ve quit there (the sheriff’s department) in the past few years, and they all say he can’t make a decision,” says Irvine, 57.
He cites the recent floods.
“Schierman had no idea where his men were or what they were doing,” says Irvine. “There was no planning in that whatsoever.”
He also slams Schierman’s treatment of Steve Waddell, a convicted killer serving time at the Shoshone County jail. Waddell was allowed work outside the jail, without wearing restraints.
“The guy (Waddell) is a killer. You can’t overlook that,” says Irvine.
Schierman, 48, says he’s running on his record: markedly increased drug arrests, an anti-drug program in schools, and success in winning grants for the department. This week, the department will add a second drug-search dog, he said.
A lifelong Silver Valley resident, Schierman began his career working as a reserve officer in Kellogg. He’s worked for the sheriff’s department since 1977.
“I’ve grown with the community; I know the community’s needs and desires,” says Schierman.
Schierman says Waddell was allowed outside on work duty because he’d shown no history of problems while in jail. Although state regulations require that such prisoners be in restraints, Schierman says corrections officials told him that prisoners could be handled on a “case-by-case” basis.
“We all know that policies and procedures are a guideline to follow,” Schierman says.
Schierman scoffed at the suggestion he’s indecisive, saying that he’s a strong leader for the department. As for the floods, he said the department worked extremely well during a difficult time.
Independent candidate Castle, 48, wants more public accountability for the department and more officers working the streets, including the sheriff.
Raised near Wallace, Castle worked for police departments in Alaska, Pullman, Mullan and Wallace, and as a security guard for the Bunker Hill Mine and Post Falls greyhound track. He started his company three years ago.
Castle predicts an Irvine victory in May. The reason: Schierman was an informant in the valley’s 1991 federal anti-gambling raid.
“People around here like to hold grudges,” says Castle.
As undersheriff, Schierman testified against his boss, then-Sheriff Frank Crnkovich. Crnkovich was indicted on gambling and racketeering charges, but never convicted. Schierman beat him easily in the ensuing election.
Castle speculates that Schierman was under some cloud himself, forcing him to become an informant. Schierman categorically denies this, saying federal agents simply asked him to cooperate, and he did.
“Nobody ever said anything like that to me at all,” Schierman says.
As for Irvine, Castle says he’s worried that Irvine’s too close to former sheriff Crnkovich.
“I believe that if Larry Irvine is elected, Frank Crnkovich, with invisible strings, will still be running this county,” Castle says.
Irvine says Crnkovich is a supporter, but said the two aren’t particularly close.
“It kind of rankles me that people think I’m Frank Crnkovich’s man, or anybody’s man,” said Irvine. “Larry Irvine’s going to be running the show. Nobody’s going to be pulling any strings.”