Decision on new sheriff up to county supervisors


Sheriff Greg Munks announced recently that he will be retiring due to health reasons on July 16, with more than two years left of what he said in November 2015 would be his final term as San Mateo County sheriff.

Because he's retiring early, it becomes the job of the county Board of Supervisors to fill the vacancy, and one candidate – Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos – has been actively campaigning to succeed Mr. Munks since November. He now seems to have an advantage.

The supervisors are likely to decide on July 12 whether to put the matter before voters or to appoint someone to complete Mr. Munks' term that ends in December 2018.

Check for updates.

Mr. Munks, 61, said in a statement that he made this "difficult decision" in recognition of a "not life-threatening" heart condition and the effect it is having on his quality of life and his capacity for full-time work. Mr. Munks is on medical leave, and Mr. Bolanos has been serving as acting sheriff.

Mr. Bolanos, a former police chief in Redwood City and second in command at the Sheriff's Office for nine years, made clear his intention to run for the top job shortly after Mr. Munks announced that he would not be seeking a fourth term.

If the board were to call for an election, Mr. Bolanos would have a six-month head start on any other candidate, Supervisor Dave Pine noted in an interview.

Since the sheriff is an elected official, having voters decide "would normally carry the day," Mr. Pine said. And if the board were to call for an election, it would likely be incorporated into the general election in November, thereby avoiding the cost of a special election, Mr. Pine said.

But with Mr. Bolanos' campaign well underway and the general election imminent, a new candidate would have to hit the ground running. "To mount a (new) campaign in that short period of time raises the question of (whether) an election is really viable," Mr. Pine said.

Supervisor Warren Slocum, after noting that San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer has ended speculation about her interest in running for sheriff, said he was not aware of any potential candidates other than Mr. Bolanos.


The Almanac asked Mr. Pine, Mr. Slocum and Supervisor Don Horsley to comment on the desired qualities of a candidate for sheriff.

Mr. Horsley, a former sheriff in San Mateo County, represents District 3, which includes Atherton, Menlo Park (west of El Camino Real), Portola Valley, Woodside and unincorporated communities in the southern part of the county.

A good candidate should demonstrate leadership ability and have goals in mind for the department, Mr. Horsley said. Also, he said, the candidate should have a committed interest in rehabilitation of prisoners (so they don't end up back in jail) and in providing services for the mentally ill, who make up a significant portion of the inmates.

Integrity, Mr. Slocum said, is key, as is relevant experience, the ability to run a complex organization, being a part of a network of relationships in the law enforcement community, and focusing on reducing recidivism.

The Sheriff's Office, Mr. Pine said, "is one of the largest and most influential departments in the county. You need a very competent manager who can provide leadership to a large and very important group of people. ... (Someone) who sets a direction for law enforcement that keeps the community safe and is sensitive to the needs of the less fortunate people in our county."

The organization's responsibilities are complicated, he said, by an expanded role in day-to-day law enforcement with the inclusion of police responsibilities in Half Moon Bay, San Carlos and Millbrae a city in District 1, which Mr. Pine represents. Sheriff's Office deputies also police Woodside, Portola Valley and nearby unincorporated communities.

Deputy morale

Mr. Munks and Mr. Bolanos were together on an April night in 2007 when Las Vegas police and federal agents found them on the premises of a brothel located in an unmarked house in a residential neighborhood of Las Vegas.

The raid on the brothel, referred to by federal agents as Operation Dollhouse, netted seven arrests, though not of customers. Mr. Munks and Mr. Bolanos were detained and questioned, then released. The subsequent investigation looked into whether the prostitutes were working as sex slaves, a Las Vegas police officer said at the time.

With the leadership of the Sheriff's Office in transition, the Almanac asked about morale among the deputies.

If there were a morale problem, there would also be an attrition problem, Mr. Horsley said. "I don't see that," he said. While the department staff is not at full strength, recruiting from surrounding police departments is ongoing, "and (the Sheriff's Office) does not lose people to other agencies," he said.

Mr. Slocum said he's talked with deputies and the department rank and file. "I didn't get a sense that things were at all rocky" either before or after Mr. Munks announced his plans to retire, he said. "From what I can see, it seems OK," he said. "My sense is that the morale is alright."

Mr. Pine said he had no comment in that he was not close enough to the department to have an informed opinion.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


12 people like this
Posted by boadicea
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2016 at 12:28 pm

boadicea is a registered user.

Who wants the head law enforcement person to be someone who got caught at a brothel

10 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 12, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Agree totally with the post from Bodacea. We need to be able to have full trust in our law enforcement officials now more than ever. The Sheriff of all people can't uphold the law if he or she can't obey it. The behavior of these two men -- even if they weren't prosecuted or fired -- was completely inappropriate calls into question the respectability and credibility of the entire Department. It's always nice to appoint from within the ranks, but in this case the hard-working men and women who put their lives on the line every day deserve better leadership.

2 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 12, 2016 at 3:53 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Old news nothing new. So what has the current sheriff and under sheriff done the rest of the time in office. LOTS.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Another example of "Those Who Matter'

3 people like this
Posted by Disappointing
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Yes, just ignore what they did, old news…

Except that anyone else other than law enforcement who would have been caught in an underage prostitution house would have to register for sex offenders FOR LIFE and be banner from having many jobs, not the least of which would be anything to do with law enforcement.

That double standard is perfectly okay.

3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 12, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.


who cares what they've done since then? They were caught in a brothel featuring underage prostitutes, mostly likely sex slaves. If they hadn't been a Sheriff and Under-sheriff I can assure you they would have been booked at a minimum. You or I would have been prosecuted. And if we didn't live in the most corrupt and morally bankrupt county in the state they would have been FIRED.

2 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 13, 2016 at 8:43 am

Both Congresswomen Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo objected to the Bolanos appointment process.

"It was rigged. It was wired, and they have no interest in public input."

"And I think that's an affront to every citizen in the county."

Quotes from Speier

Web Link

The optics of the process does not reflect well on the board of supervisors. Munks announces he's stepping down in a short time. A quick appointment process is set up in which only his preferred successor is ready to participate.

The Mercury News article says Speier said both San Mateo police Chief Susan Manheimer and San Bruno police Chief Ed Barberini would have been interested in applying to be sheriff if they were given the chance.

There's no reason why the supervisors couldn't have appointed a temporary sheriff while they vetted and interviewed the interested candidates.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2016 at 12:34 pm

This was a very exciting BOS meeting.

I personally asked Supervisors Carole Groom and Don Horsley to recuse themselves from agenda item 7.
Ms. Groom because she was appointed to Supervisor in 2008, and Don Horsley because he was our former Sheriff but also to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. He publicly supported Carlos Bolanos at his election Kickoff event.

More important is that Don Horsley demonstrated that he was going to do something that wasn't publicly noticed very well. It wasn't noticed that Carlos Bolanos might be appointed on Tuesday, what the public thought was the BOS was going to decide if an appointment process or an election was going to happen. This is consistent with the Grand Jury warning the residents that SMC Leaders mislead the public.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Nationally renowned Indian restaurant expanding to Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 2,492 views

Summer travel: Is anything changing?
By Sherry Listgarten | 8 comments | 1,077 views

Premarital and Couples: "Our Deepest Fear" by Marianne Williamson
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 673 views

Swimming with the kids
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 605 views

Cap On? Cap Off? Recycling Bottles is Confusing
By Laura Stec | 10 comments | 557 views