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Democratic primary for sheriff pits two veteran lawmen

Editor’s Note: This is part of a Journal series on candidates in the June 3 primary election.

The two Democrats vying for a chance to become the Bernalillo County sheriff are experienced lawmen who say they want to bring trust and accountability back to the sheriff’s office.

Sylvester Stanley, a court security officer with more than three decades of law enforcement experience, and Manuel Gonzales, a former BCSO sheriff with more than 20 years as a certified law enforcement officer, are competing against each other for a chance to run against whoever wins the Republican primary.

Early voting begins Saturday.

Should Gonzales win the primary, he could face off against his successor, incumbent sheriff Dan Houston. For that to happen, Houston would also have to win the Republican primary.

Gonzales said he’s running because the sheriff’s office is not the same one he left in December 2010. He took over in December 2009 when then-sheriff Darren White got a job as the city’s public safety director.

“In making my decision to run, I felt very compelled to want to come back and help this community out,” Gonzales said. “The way I had left the agency is not the shape it’s in now.”

Gonzales said he wants to improve deputy morale by focusing on accountability, fair and impartial treatment of deputies and collaboration. He said he told deputies that during a recent candidate forum.

“I have the time. I have the experience. I have the qualifications. I have the support,” he said. “… So I just felt this is one of the things I wanted to do again.”

Stanley ran for the sheriff’s office in 2002 but was unsuccessful, and he said he’s been considering a new attempt ever since.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” he said in a phone interview Monday. “… If people look at my qualifications, they are going to see I am the person for the job.”

Stanley is a former police chief at the Gallup Police Department and the Isleta Police Department and spent more than 20 years at BCSO, where he eventually became a captain.

He said he intends to push the department toward greater community policing and that change at the department begins with leadership.

Manuel Gonzales III

Manuel Gonzales IIIPOLITICAL PARTY: Democratic


AGE: 50

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in Occupational Education, Major: Management, Minor: Specialization in Law Enforcement, Wayland Baptist University, 2009; Associate of Applied Science Degree in Criminal Justice, Central New Mexico Community College, 1993.

OCCUPATION: Candidate for Sheriff, March 2014-Present; Sheriff of Bernalillo County, Dec. 2009-Dec. 2010; Captain with Bernalillo County, June 2009-Dec. 2009; Deputy through Lieutenant with Bernalillo County, 1989-2009; Honorable Discharge, United States Marine Corps, 1981-1987.

FAMILY: Elaine R. Gonzales; three children.

POLITICAL/GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: Appointed to Bernalillo County Sheriff Dec. 1, 2009-Dec. 31, 2010. Assignments: Deputy, Sergeant, Lieutenant and Captain, Aug. 14, 1989-Nov. 31, 2009.

MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Unanimous appointment to Sheriff on Nov. 31, 2009; Graduate from Northwestern University Center for Public Safety-Police Staff and Command Training; New Mexico Department of Public Safety State Certified Executive level officer; Wayland Baptist University, the Dr. Claude W.Cone Award, Outstanding Baccalaureate Graduate for Academic and Community Involvement; Experienced Command Officer-Hurricane Katrina Response Effort.

MAJOR PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: The most rewarding personal accomplishment is being happily married and father of three good and active children.

Sylvester Stanley

Sylvester StanleyPOLITICAL PARTY: Democratic


AGE: 59

EDUCATION: Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

OCCUPATION: 2009-present, Rehire Police officer APD; 2008-2009, State Parks Manager; 2003-2007, Police Chief Gallup, N.M., 2002-2003; Police Chief Isleta Pueblo, 1982-2002; Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department retired captain.

FAMILY: Married to RoseMary Romero-Stanley 35 years, two children.


MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Retired from the Sheriff’s Department as a Captain; Retired United States Army; Police Chief.

MAJOR PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Happily married for 35 years, raised two sons, and now have seven grandchildren.

Q. Would you support a policy requiring sheriff’s deputies to wear lapel cameras and record encounters with civilians?

GONZALES: I support the use of cameras; although, I question whether or not lapel cameras are the best technology today. The policies need to be developed so deputies maintain the ability to treat people fairly and equally.

STANLEY: While lapel cameras are important I would first review the sheriff’s policy on lapel camera and audio recording. I would also talk to members of the rank and file and command staff to see if there is a need for modification of the present policy. I would not just change the policy for the sake of just changing the policy.

Q. What differentiates you from your opponent?

GONZALES: I have an extensive history as Sheriff of treating staff and citizens in a fair, equal, and civil manner. I have established public trust, creditability throughout our community and strong principles to make good choices.

STANLEY: I have over 38 years of law enforcement experience, with 20 of those years being in the supervisor’s rank to include one year as a police chief at Isleta Pueblo, 3.5 as the police chief in Gallup, one year as a state park manager in law enforcement at N.M. State parks. Retired Captain from Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department and retired military 23 years. I am also a graduate of the FBI National Academy, and hold many other management courses. I also have an associate degree in criminal justice.

Q. Do you believe the sheriff’s office should be in charge of running the jail system?

GONZALES: As Sheriff, I would be in support of running the jail provided a comprehensive analysis was completed and supported by the County Commission and community.

STANLEY: I am not opposed to the sheriff department running the jail but that is a decision that would have to be made and initiated by the county commissioner. If that decision is made there will need to be a partnership with the judicial system, a lot of planning such as short range and long range, and also reorganization that would have to be done. If I am asked to move in that direction I do have an initial plan to start procedures.

Q. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?


STANLEY: Not applicable.

Q. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?


STANLEY: Yes, I initiated a personal bankruptcy, however it was withdrawn and never followed through with.

Q. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state?