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Assistant Sheriff John McMahon appointed as next Sheriff

SAN BERNARDINO • Assistant Sheriff John McMahon was unanimously appointed as the next Sheriff of San Bernardino County, in keeping with the recommendation of an appointed ad hoc committee during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

Board Chairwoman Josie Gonzales and Supervisor Gary Ovitt, the two members of the ad hoc committee in charge of screening applicants, presented their findings and then nominated McMahon for the position during the course of the meeting. After a period of public discussion, the five members of the Board of Supervisors approved a motion to appoint McMahon with no objections.

McMahon will be sworn in on Dec. 31, when Sheriff Rod Hoops officially retires, according to county spokesperson David Wert.

During their report to the Board, Gonzales and Ovitt spoke of the process they underwent to make this recommendation, which included 14 meetings with members of the department. Gonzales and Ovitt explained that they gained an appreciation for the qualities required for the job, including the respect of peers, experience to lead and awareness of the inner workings of department, especially because of Assembly Bill 109 — all of which led to a decision to promote from within the department.

Gonzales noted that she disapproved of Hoops’ decision to announce his endorsement of McMahon.

“I don’t have a problem with my sheriff retiring, but I found it extremely uncomfortable and unfair that, during the process, to also announce who he wanted as his successor,” Gonzales said. “When we look at McMahon, I think it is only fair that we look at his accomplishments and why he deserves the position.”

Gonzales read a litany of praises for McMahon, collected during the committee’s research, describing McMahon as “highly ethical,” “an engaged leader,” “a strong and positive communicator” and “a cop’s cop.”

The issue of an appointment versus a special election came up multiple times during the meeting, with various people expressing frustration that their voices were not heard.

“This isn’t about Schrader or McMahon. It’s about the process and board of supervisors,” said Jill Parkinson, wife to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Schrader. “I am profoundly disappointed in watching you operate.”

Schrader, who received 21 percent of the vote when he ran against Hoops in 2010, wished to be considered for the position, and several people spoke in his defense during the public discussion.

Among others, 3rd District Supervisor James Ramos noted the impracticality of a special election, explaining that it would cost $3.5 million.

According to Wert, a special election would require two elections: one to change the charter and another to elect the sheriff. It’s a process that would take an entire year, requiring an interim sheriff in the meantime.

“I wish we could have a special election, and I wish we could have it today,” 2nd District Supervisor Janice Rutherford said. “Given how the charter sits now, it is our responsibility to make this appointment so this department is not left in turmoil and disappointment, and it needs to happen before Jan. 1.”

Before the Board of Supervisors voted, McMahon was called to the microphone and asked if he was interested in running for sheriff, as he had never announced the desire publicly.

“Absolutely, and my plan is to run for election in 2014,” McMahon said.

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