Mike George Drops a Bomb at Loudoun Sheriff Debate
[The complete audio recording of Tuesday night's debate between Loudoun County Sheriff candidates is below the fold. This should put an end to discussion of who did or did not say what.]
While there were a number of interesting statements throughout the evening, more than anything the debate clearly illustrated substantial differences between the candidates. Loudoun County voters really have a stark choice in November.
Only Greg Ahlemann conveyed a clear message about why voters should choose him, and not solely based on the illegal immigration issue. Save for the question of whether we should have a county-wide police department, Steve Simpson and Mike George said virtually nothing to distinguish themselves one from the other, and their only coherent criticism of Mr. Ahlemann was his "lack of experience." It comes across clearly in the debate that "experience" may be very overrated - we already knew this about Steve Simpson and we've now learned it with reference to Mike George.
Most stunning was Democrat Mike George's statement of support for day labor centers for illegal workers and criticism of the town of Herndon's decision to shut down its day labor center two weeks ago. This betrays an astounding naivete regarding the illegal alien issue and should effectively eliminate him from consideration by Sterling voters.
The town of Herndon saw an increase in the number of illegal aliens after the day labor center was announced - and why not: it signals a "welcome" to illegal workers. Of course, people who have absolutely no familiarity with the situation on the ground could be excused for assuming the day labor center merely moved a problem from one unruly place to a more manageable place. It's fine that some people still do not understand what is happening here, but we surely do not need one of them as our Sheriff. Or, I should say, another one.
Mike George's partly nonsensical response also should put to bed once and for all the notion that "education" has any relevance in the choice between these three candidates. Mr. George famously came out in favor of ICE 287(g) training for Sheriff's Office personnel earlier this year after Greg Ahlemann had spent several months talking about it - and then two weeks later Mr George amended his support, saying having more than one deputy trained would be "overkill." Presumably, back when Mr. George was last involved in actual law enforcment they had officers who could work 24/7/365. These days, that does not pass muster.
Here, his understanding of the Herndon center seems to vacillate from what it really was to something it definitely was not. Mr. George states "was there illegals there? I don't know" which should give most local residents pause. Like anyone who has read a local newspaper in the past two years, or happens to live within a mile of the facility, or has a smidgen of understanding of the local illegal immigration issue. (For the record, government studies estimated that at least 85% of the workers being served by the center were illegal aliens - a figure arrived at by extrapolating from a Fairfax County study that found over 80% of the county's foreign born residents were here illegally).
He then goes on to suggest part of the beauty of a workers' center is "you do ID them." Well, actually, Mr. George, you do not. Otherwise, there would never have been a controversy over the Herndon center and it never would have been shut down. (Come to think of it, it never would have been started up).
We'll let Mr. George speak for himself:
George: I actually think it was a mistake to close the day labor site in Herndon. It was a place where everybody came to work. Now was there illegals there? I don't know. Did they check? I know they didn't check. But it gave a central location where people could find work and the only thing they were guilty of was wanting to work. What you have now is people coming out and going to various locations and hanging out, and you're going to have to do enforcement. Enforcement is an option that you have to take sometimes. So what you're looking at is do you have people hanging out at 7-11s looking for work, or do you put them in one central location where people go, where you can monitor. You can actually ID them, and that is something that I'd recommend. These people do come up and you do ID them. You want to know who everybody is, so that makes it an easier way to do it. The best part of that work center was, I worked in Fairfax when they were hanging out at the 7-11 .... try to go in and get a soda when they were hanging out there. So I think it was a benefit.
My first reaction to hearing this was: If Mike George is this clueless on the topic of the day labor center controversy - certainly one of the key issues in eastern Loudoun county in the past year - how long would it take him to get up to speed on what is really happening here as Sheriff?
If he is not aware that even the hint of increased enforcement at the local level has already caused illegal aliens to leave from towns like Hazleton, PA, and the states of Georgia, Arizona and Oklahoma, can we count on him to help move the ball forward on reversing the influx of illegal aliens into Loudoun?
He gives the impression of a genial outsider for whom this is not an issue he needs to play a role in addressing. Let me emphasize Mike George does not seem like a bad guy at all. He seems competent and sincere, but not the person we need in the role of Sheriff.
There is more to report from the debate, forthcoming.
Question 1: What is your opinion on forming a county-side police force?
Question 2: Looking to the future, what needs to be done in the Sheriff's department as the county continues to grow?
Question 3: During the recent debate on illegal immigration in Loudoun, some elected officials and residents have portrayed parts of eastern Loudoun, especially Sterling Park, as being run down and unsafe. Oftentimes these issues have been attributed to illegal immigrants. Do you think this is a fair portrayal of Sterling Park and, if so, what can the Sheriff's department do to improve the quality of life in this community?
Question 4: In light of the recent opening of the new jail facility here in Loudoun County, how do you propose working with the Board of Supervisors and with the areas outside the area, such as Frederick County, in dealing with the overcrowding and housing that we most likely will have in light of the increased gang activity that will likely be taking place?
Question 5: Every year in negotiations with the Board of Supervisors it seems you don't get the deputies you're after. What can you do differently to make sure you get the deputies? And do we have enough deputies to man the county?
Question 6: If elected Sheriff would you make any wholesale changes in the Sheriff's Office in terms of staff?
Question 7: Regarding the recent closing of the Herndon day labor site, which shared a border with Loudoun County ... we are starting to notice at various locations here in Loudoun the formation of impromptu day labor sites. What is your position on that and if the Board of Supervisors chose to set up a type of day labor site, how would you enforce that and how would you work with the Board of Supervisors in relation to the ICE programs?
Question 8: There's been a lot of talk this campaign season, about this race in particular, with respect to everyone's feelings on religion. Can you describe to me how you separate your personal faith from your job, if these two issues ever cross paths, as Sheriff?
Question 9: In the federal government illegal immigration enforcement program called 287(g), ICE officials generally only deport illegal immigrants detained by local jurisdictions who are convicted of felonies. As Sheriff, so you think 287(g) should also include deportation of those convicted of DUIs and other misdemeanors?
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