Sheriff Candidates Gillespie, Airola Square Off

The two men vying for the job of Clark County sheriff squared off in their first meeting since the primary election on August 15.

Hundreds of people jammed the Clark County Library to hear from businessman Jerry Airola and Undersheriff Doug Gillespie. Both men remained civil to each other, although they had their disagreements.

The primary campaign between the two men got ugly, but as the general election moves closer the choices are very clear.

The voters will either choose change in the form of the millionaire businessman Airola, or they will vote for tradition in the form of veteran lawman Doug Gillespie.

With hundreds in the crowd, sheriff candidates Doug Gillespie and Jerry Airola waited for their turn to square off at Monday night forum at the library on East Flamingo.

Gillespie led off touting tradition and his twenty-five years of experience with Metro.

"The last three and a half years as your undersheriff has afforded me to oversee the everyday operations of every aspect of Metro," Gillespie said.

Airola followed and was aggressive early on.

"I believe Metro has a great police department. I don't believe it is being managed well," Airola said. "We were the tenth safest city in America in 2002. Today we are the seventh most dangerous city in America."

Gillespie remained stoic and cited his own statistics. "In '05, actual incidents of robbery were reduced compared to actual incidents of robbery in '04," he continued.

The topic of crime increases and its connection to the valley's growth was a major topic. 

Airola said, "I hold the administration accountable just like I would any other management group. They missed the ball here."

Gillespie countered with the recent tax initiative designed to put more cops on the streets.

"That is not something that does not happen overnight. That is a three-year process to get that on, for us to get the ability to get that money to hire those officers," Gillespie countered.

In the end, the race for Clark County sheriff is boiling down to a battle of a long time Las Vegas lawman who has been on the streets and a successful businessman who has put people in position to succeed.

Gillespie said, "It is not about buying and selling widgets. It's being out there dealing with people who are devious and deceptive."

Airola said, "I hire people who are very good at it."

The two wrapped up the forum by addressing the coroner's inquest process in light of the recent officer involved shootings.

Airola said changes are needed and that the system needs to be cleaned up.

Gillespie said it is a good, public process but he would be willing to look at minor changes.

Send feedback to reporter Adrian Arambulo at aarambulo@klastv.com


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