What to know about candidates for Fresno County Sheriff

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The race for Fresno County Sheriff moves career crime fighters onto the campaign trail.

"My opponent is a strong manager but I'm a leader," says Fresno Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Mark Salazar. "I bring ideas but I also want to help change the culture."

"I know the Sheriff's office inside and out," says Fresno County Assistant Sheriff John Zanoni. "I've worked in almost every division, every unit of the sheriff's office."

Zanoni notes the city of Fresno covers 116 square miles, while he's helped protect 6,000 square miles in a county where residential housing continues to expand.

"We need to add deputy sheriff positions," he said. "Where we're sitting here in Friant right now is an area that's growing rapidly."

Salazar helped establish Compstat, which compiles data to identify trouble spots.

"I want to bring Compstat to the sheriff's department and then regionalize it throughout Fresno County and again, in the hopes of prevention, intervention, enforcement so we can have lower crime," he said.

Zanoni's been endorsed by Sheriff Margaret Mims, Valley sheriff's and several police associations.

"They know I'm going to do a good job and they know I'm someone that's good to work with," he said. "I treat people well."

Salazar was a candidate for Fresno Police Chief, a position filled by Paco Balderrama.

"I've been offered police chief jobs outside of Fresno in the last year and a half, two years, but Fresno's home," he said.

Salazar believes the sheriff's office needs to do a better job of engaging young people.

Zanoni maintains he's in a better position to make needed changes.

"I know exactly how we're going to do law enforcement out on the west side of Fresno County near Coalinga," he said. "I know what it takes to run operations like search and rescue."

Both say added technology is needed to reduce crime. They also agree workplace improvements are needed at the county jail.

"The jail needs a fresh set of eyes," Salazar said. "The jail staff, they feel under-appreciated."

"I have a plan to increase jail staffing," Zanoni said. "We're going to work on some things to improve morale over there."

For Zanoni and Salazar, it will be a winner-take-all election come June 7th.

Whoever gets the most support that night will be named Fresno County Sheriff-elect.
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