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Clarification Of Misconception On Sheriff's Candidates

A recent letter, regarding the two candidates for Madera County Sheriff, Chief Jay Varney and Undersheriff Michael Salvador, warrants some clarification.

The letter states: “Mr. Varney lacks the experience needed in managing a large department.”

While serving as Chief of Police of the City of Chowchilla, Chief Varney also served as Acting City Administrator for approximately 2 years and recently agreed to take over this position, once again on an interim basis while serving as Chief of Police.

The budget for the Madera County Sheriff’s Department is approximately $15 million. The budget for the City of Chowchilla is in excess of $15 million. A city administrator is generally responsible for oversight of all city departments and acts as a liaison between the department directors, council members, and all other government entities, such as the Madera County Board of Supervisors. One of the main jobs of the city administrator is to make sure all other city departments are functioning as expected, help various department heads stay on budget, help them set goals, and ensure all departments are working as a cohesive unit for the residents of the city. In addition, Chief Varney has drawn his experience from Dallas, Texas and Lansing, Michigan.

The writer states: “I can not find Chowchilla listed in the top 100 safest cities in California.”

One must understand statistical data in order to use it or quote it accurately. Crime rate statistics can be elusive. In some instances the actual average number of crimes in an area or city may remain the same while the population increases. This gives a false indication that the crime rate did not go down when, in fact, it has. Additionally poorer communities have a higher crime rate. Some voters may welcome a leader who has been challenged by working in an area where the crime rate is higher and will be bringing that experience to our community. Drug crimes and the loosening of drug laws and influx of cartel operations will require a strong leader with diversified experience and background, fresh ideas, strategy and wide perspective to maintain our safe environment.

The writer expresses concern over Chief Varney’s mention of establishing a foundation. A properly formed sheriff’s foundation would actually make government funding responsibilities smaller. Foundations should be formed as a nonprofit public benefit corporation, and not organized for the private gain of any person. A strong leader, with integrity, will keep this from happening. Voters should discuss “foundations” with Chief Varney to gain a better understanding as to how one can benefit our community.

The writer states: “I questions Mr. Varney’s knowledge of the problems and concern that are specific to our area.”

Consensus, among residents, is that Chief Varney is very much aware of their concerns; and not only is he fully aware, but he has solid, logical solutions for these problems. You can confirm this by talking to him yourself.

The writer states: “Prior to the campaign, I do not believe Mr. Varney was ever seen or visited our mountain communities.”

Chief Varney has been coming to the mountain and foothill areas over the last 10 years to attend business meetings, community events, police training team building workshops, church, as a volunteer for the CHAMP program assisting with courses at a local church and Oakhurst Cal Fire stations, and for many family outings.

The letter takes issue with Chief Varney’s numerous endorsements. Endorsements generally are given to candidates considered to be “contenders” and generally are not just handed out. Traditionally candidates must seek out endorsements and prove their credibility, qualifications and comparable values. Most organizations will have a specific process to follow.

The letter states: “The MDSA………endorses him because he has never had to take disciplinary acting against any of them……..” Never having to take disciplinary action against staff could be seen as a testimony to Chief Varney’s leadership skills.

The letter states: “the MDA votes for endorsement was very close.” Records indicate the vote was 34 in favor of endorsing Chief Varney, 19 for Undersheriff Salvador and 5 no endorsement. I suppose “very close” is relative to one’s own perspective.

I would urge voters contact the candidates directly. Getting an opinion about a candidate from another individual is that person’s opinion and is based on that person’s personal agenda. Direct contact with a candidate allows you to form your own opinion. Seek out the candidates and speak to them directly. Most good, viable candidates are available at community functions and easily approachable and eager and open to discussing issues and addressing your concerns. If you don’t want to leave the comfort of your home, you can email Chief Varney at: or address him by snail mail at P.O. Box 994, Chowchilla, CA 93610. Undersheriff Salvador’s email address is:

Terre Sparkman

Oakhurst, California

One comment

  1. Chief Varney heads a small town police department. It is a very limited experience when compared to Michael Salvadore’s experience as Undersheriff of all of Madera County. Michael Salvadore will need no on the job training. Varney would need upwards of a year to become as familiar with the Sheriff’s department, its procedures and its people as Michael Salvadore is now. The only person qualified to give him that training is Undersheriff Michael Salvadore.

    Why would we elect someone who needs to learn the job when we already have someone who qualified to hit the ground running the first day.

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