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Deputy takes on boss

Letras files candidacy for Sheriff

Deputy takes on boss

Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Letras of Ceres pays for filing fees to run for sheriff at the Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters office on Monday afternoon. Assisting the candidate is clerk Kathy Styles.

POSTED March 4, 2014 5:58 p.m.

Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Letras, a 1990 graduate of Ceres High School, filed papers on Monday to run for sheriff against incumbent Sheriff Adam Christianson, his boss.

“I plan to bring common sense and solid leadership back to the Sheriff’s Department,” said Letras, a 17-year law enforcement veteran.

Outside the county Registrar of Voters office in downtown Modesto, Letras was buoyed by his parents, Jim and Cathy Letras of Ceres, for moral support. Letras admits that he’s the underdog in the race and agreed with his mother who drew biblical parallels to the battle between David and Goliath.

“You’re talking about running against a two-term incumbent sheriff,” said Letras. “I’m not going to be able to raise the amount of funds that an incumbent sheriff is going to raise to run a campaign. It’s about going out to as many people as I can. How do you get your message out without money? You’re gonna have to go and burn some shoe leather and be out walking and talking and be at as many events as I can.”

Letras helped on the failed campaign of now Turlock Police Chief Rob Jackson who tried to defeat Christianson four years ago.

“There’s nobody else who was really willing to stand up and go up against him. He can be very difficult. We’ve had a lot of problems with our department and the services we’re providing and these lawsuits we’ve had that has caused almost $10 million that our taxpayers have absorbed. These things that should be important to all of us, how much is the department costing the taxpayers in avoidable lawsuits?”

Letras announced his intent to run in September 2012 and blasted Christianson as a bully who intimidates his employees. He said the department lacks leadership, and suffers from low morale. He mostly recently criticized Christianson for allowing the use of the department helicopter for a private fundraiser in which golf balls were dropped from the air in Calaveras County.

Letras began his career in 1997 after being hired by Sheriff Les Weidman to work as a custody deputy in the Sheriff’s detention facilities. Letras has served as the public information officer, a patrol deputy, gang detective, and many other assignments.

Christianson has said he intends to run again. A second would-be challenger to Christianson did not materialize in Tori Hughes, a department lieutenant acting as Patterson’s police chief. In July 2012 Hughes testified at a civil trial that she heard Christianson talk about a “limp, lame and lazy” list of injured workers. The sheriff later issued an apology for the remark.



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