Summer Scheyer, a law enforcement veteran of 22 years, recently announced her run for the office of Skamania County Sheriff.
According to her announcement, Scheyer had been a police officer with the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department for two and a half years and a Skamania County Sheriff’s Deputy for more than 19 years.
Scheyer graduated from Eatonville High Schol, received an associates degree from Pierce College and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Washington State University, according to the announcement.
Scheyer is running in a contested race against Ryan Cook and David Waymire. According to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, Scheyer’s campaign has raised more than $6,000 in donations. Scheyer is a lifelong Republican.
Columbia Gorge News spoke with Scheyer in a phone interview to ask why she decided to run for office and have submitted requests to the two other candidates for interviews. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Why do you plan to run for office?
I’ve been a law enforcement officer for 22 years. I primarily work the road, doing different things during that time. I want to be able to affect change in a different position and doing that as the Sheriff of Skamania County. There are definitely some things that I think we can improve. One of the things is building further trust with the community, throughout our entire county. And being able to build community relationships stronger. As you know, law enforcement is struggling with relationships with their communities. Luckily, in our area, we do have a good relationship with our communities. But I think it could be improved upon.
I’m integrating our deputies into community programs. I’ve been working on a few right now. And I plan on doing that in the future. And again, without releasing too many things of what I plan to do. But what I’ve done so far, in trying to work with the school, on different programs, and in the community, trying to get us out there for we used to when I first started here 20 years ago, we were more involved within schools in uniform and working with kids.
What is your philosophy on leadership?
Leading by example. I have worked extremely hard in my 22 years, I have led our agency at times in arrests, drug arrests, search warrants written, investigations, proactive patrol. And I also am involved in our community, I also take my health and fitness very seriously. And I try to integrate those things within our agency. And I want to be able to leave my agency with that same determination and that same work ethic.
If you were to be elected, you’d be taking over at a time when law enforcement in this state is in a position of flux. How would you see yourself interacting with the new state rules coming down?
I’m doing that now. Every day, I work the road and am familiar with them, because obviously, it changed the way I do law enforcement. It’s changed the way everyone in Washington State does law enforcement. Now, there have been two house bills to revise what was brought down through 1310 and the use of less-than-lethal weapons. So it sounds like that may be a go ahead to the current update. But my opinion is that there are reasons why people are very upset by this, and in particular law enforcement. I would really like to see people that proposed (the bills) to be able to talk to law enforcement and actually speak with them and gain some knowledge.
Law enforcement is a multi-faceted entity. There’s so much to it. I’ve never worked a job where I have been so judged by someone who doesn’t do the job, who doesn’t have knowledge of the job that law enforcement is. And I don’t understand why it kind of opens that door for people to make these broad generalizations about law enforcement, and I think we need to work together to try and find a working way of handling things. But law enforcement needs to be contacted. It would be nice that we can use our knowledge to be able to help with these some of these reforms.
What priorities do you want to focus on if elected?
I’m going to be really broad, because I do have very specific things that I want to do. But because it’s so early in the campaign, I’m not trying to be coy. But I obviously know that my competitors may read this and I don’t want to give them everything that I have right now.
But there’s two specific things that I really want to work on. One is more creative programs, like definitely being integrated within the community — specific things that we’re doing regularly. My other number one I get up to, is actually taking care of our law enforcement officers. We’re finding more and more that law enforcement officers are suffering from PTSD. They’re not surviving long after they retire. They’re much more susceptible to suicide, the number of reported things that we need to as an agency, and as we as a sheriff, organizing a peer support group, within our agency, to start taking care of our law enforcement officers. I also want to work on a health and nutrition segment. Now before I can do that, obviously, officers are not always known for their health and fitness. And a lot of it has to do with working crazy shifts, not having the best food available, just grabbing something at night and not eating the best thing. I don’t think people realize this... but you have this training to always be high alert. But that doesn’t turn off when you’re off duty. I kept myself carrying my groceries, all of them in my left hand. And you know, why is my gun and I was trained 23 years ago to keep that free. And so I don’t think people realize the stress that law enforcement officers have.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Super outdoors person, even if it’s raining. I love to go backpacking and hiking; I’m a marathon runner. So right now, I’m working on running a marathon in all 50 states. After I qualified for Boston, ran Boston, and then ran Boston a second time, I decided that I needed a new goal and decided to start running a marathon in every state. So it’s kind of fun to be able to go and travel and see different places that I may never travel to just within our awesome country.