Joe Ibarra announces another run for sheriff

CORUNNA — Joe Ibarra announced Wednesday in a prepared statement that he is running for Shiawassee County sheriff, and promised that, if elected in November, his goals will be “100 percent transparency, rebuilding the citizens’ trust,” and finding a way to provide additional road patrol coverage in the county.

Ibarra, a Democrat and reserve officer with the Owosso Public Safety Department, also ran against current Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole in 2016. Following the loss to BeGole in the 2016 election, Ibarra told The Argus-Press he was hopeful BeGole would make changes inside the Sheriff’s Office, but would consider a run this year if positive changes didn’t occur.

The deadline to file for election in Shiawassee County is April 21. BeGole has already said he is seeking a new term.

In 2016, BeGole, then a Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office sergeant, collected 23,077 votes. Ibarra, a reserve officer with the Owosso Public Safety Department, received 10,194 votes.

In his statement, Ibarra took issue with numerous events that have taken place over the last several years, including the 2017 drug overdose death of a female inmate at the jail.

“The sheriff has not provided adequate protection for inmates in the jail,” Ibarra said. “We had a young mother who died from a drug overdose that left four young children behind. Those drugs were smuggled into the jail by another inmate. I have known that family for years and my heart goes out to them.”

Ibarra also doesn’t believe an improper relationship between a deputy corrections officer and a female inmate that occurred at the jail was handled properly by the sheriff’s administration.

“That corrections officer was allowed to resign,” Ibarra said, adding the deputy should have been fired.

The $37-million bond proposal for a new jail that failed with voters in Shiawassee County in May 2019 is another point of contention for Ibarra. He thinks less costly alternatives were more appropriate for the size of the county. He pointed to a proposal in Branch County, which cost $22 million, as a possible solution that would have a more realistic chance of being approved.

“Our sheriff and undersheriff have not been honest with the citizens of the county,” Ibarra added. “They tried to pass a millage for a new jail that was over-inflated with costs. I believe the reason was to pay back missing money to Central Dispatch 911 MERS retirement. As you can see between some of our county commissioners and the sheriff’s office, they were trying to hide this and have the hard-working citizens pay for their improper use of taxpayers’ money. I am not opposed to a new jail, but I am opposed to a jail that would have been overinflated with a cost to the citizens of Shiawassee County.”

Ibarra also questioned why BeGole wrote a letter of support to a federal judge asking for leniency on behalf of former Oakley Police Chief Rob Reznick, who was sentenced to one year in federal prison in July 2019 for running an illegal firearm scheme.

“Our sheriff tried to influence a federal judge in his decision when sentencing a convicted felon,” Ibarra said in his statement. “(BeGole wrote) ‘As the elected sheriff of Shiawassee County and the son of a former district judge,’ Why would someone that is to be held to a higher standard write letters like this? Does Rob Reznick know something about our Sheriff? The other question we should be asking, did our sheriff write any more letters for other people?”

Ibarra also pointed to several pending lawsuits that have been filed against BeGole, including a wrongful termination suit filed by a former corrections sergeant at the jail, and a Freedom of Information suit filed by an Owosso woman contesting the denial of a FOIA request.

“My opponent will tell you that he is the only certified law enforcement officer (running),” Ibarra continued. “Look where that has gotten the county today.”

Ibarra gave as an example Rick Beracy, who worked for a telephone company in Gratiot County, and ran for sheriff, won and was elected to four terms before retiring.

“I am an Owosso city sworn reserve police officer,” Ibarra said. “I have worked thousands of hours, handled many complaints, written field contacts and reports.”

Ibarra said he would be “happy to debate the issues I have spoken about” in an open forum or debate with BeGole.

“When elected sheriff, I will surround myself with the proper personnel that share the same goals in rebuilding that department, along with 100 percent transparency and protecting the citizens,” Ibarra’s statement said. “Within the first quarter, I will call for an independent audit for the Sheriff’s Office, listing all monies, property, and will publish what it was used or spent on and where it went. I will also rebuild the relationships and trust with the citizens of the county. I will not show favoritism to any citizen or business. I will hold my administration to the highest standard of excellence.”




Join Team Ibarra

Want to help Joe’s campaign?  Click any option below to join our team!

Join Team Ibarra

Want to help Joe’s campaign?  Click any option below to join our team!