Sheriff spokesperson seeing red
May 27, 2010
By KAREN VELIE
With two weeks to go, the six-candidate race for sheriff in San Luis Obispo County is getting testy with the communication spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department calling the supporters of one candidate, Joe Cortez, “commies” or communists.
Rob Bryn, who is the department’s official media spokesman, supports the candidacy of San Luis Obispo police Capt. Ian Parkinson for sheriff. Parkinson, Cortez and four others are on the June 8 primary election ballot competing for the job.
Bryn admitted that he wrote a press release announcing Parkinson’s candidacy for sheriff that was distributed in March 2009, prompting some to question whether Bryn has a conflict of interest since he still works for the outgoing sheriff, Pat Hedges.
Bryn told CalCoastNews that he sees no conflict in supporting Parkinson, who was described by many as the frontrunner.
“What I do off duty is my own business, and it’s nobody’s business who I do (support), or do not support in a political situation,” Bryn said of his support for Parkinson. “I will be doing what I can to help out. I’ve known the guy for 25 years.”
Nevertheless, Cortez, a former police chief of Pismo Beach, has been very vocal in his plans to eliminate Bryn’s position with the Sheriff’s Department if elected sheriff.
In response to Bryn’s comment that his supporters are “commies,” Cortez said:
“Some people get caught up in the heat of the campaign and their emotions get the better of them. It is an unfortunate situation and that is why it is time for positive change in the sheriff’s department.”
Cortez went on to say that he would do away with Bryn’s position as the department’s media spokesman.
“The position that Rob has is a full time position with benefits and a take home car and that is just not a luxury we can afford at this time,” Cortez said. “I will look to reduce that position to a part time position with no benefits and no car.”
In addition, several of the remaining four candidates have said they will either eliminate or reduce to part time the spokesperson position.
Last week, the New Times asked readers in San Luis Obispo County who they wanted to be the next sheriff.
Supporters of both Parkinson and Cortez began shooting out e-mails and Facebook pleas to have their friends vote for their candidate. More than 3,000 people – more than 10 times the usual New Time’s poll voters – logged on to vote for their candidate with the leader fluctuating between Cortez and Parkinson.
During a time that Cortez was leading in the poll, Bryn began sending out pleas to his 589 Facebook friends, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and recently appointed Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, to vote for Parkinson.
“Attention: San Luis Obispo Sheriff Officers and friends, The New Times website has a sheriff poll and the Cortez staff is on it,” Bryn said in his post last Monday. “Let’s get up and give Parkinson the vote. Don’t let the commies win.”
In the end, Parkinson won the unscientific poll with Cortez coming in second.
Ed. Note: Rob Bryn issued a statement Thursday night denying that he has a “take home” car through the Sheriff’s department.