We strongly support John Simonton for sheriff of Lee County, and we want to explain why. We serve on the Compton Fire Department and have experience with Emergency Management Services (EMS).
It has been our experience that Sheriff Varga lacks desire to cooperate with Lee County fire departments. One example of this was when Sheriff Varga removed radios, which enabled communication between fire and law enforcement, from deputies’ cars. His reason: Firemen could call 911 dispatch.
Seconds matter during emergencies. That decision caused delays in emergency response and added burden to the 911 dispatch system.
Deputies now have new radios because Lee County MABAS obtained them through a grant; however, it took more than a year for Varga to decide to have them installed. We think that demonstrates lack of cooperation and priority.
John Simonton understands those issues, and we are confident that he will promote cohesion between all EMS agencies. Simonton is well-trained in areas of tactical response with local, county and state police, which means he is highly qualified to be sheriff.
These opinions are our own and not necessarily those of Compton Fire Department.
Note to readers: Steve and Debra Gilmore are both EMTs with the Compton Volunteer Fire Department. Steve also is assistant chief.