Mayor Oscar Leeser and former mayor Joe Wardy endorsed Sheriff Richard Wiles Wednesday.
Republican Tom Buchino, a retired Army Special Forces Green Beret, will challenge Wiles in the November general election. Buchino has received the endorsement of the El Paso County Sheriff's Officers Association and the El Paso Municipal Police Officers Association.
Wardy and Leeser met with Sheriff Wiles Wednesday to announce their endorsements.
"El Paso's become one of the safest cities in America and Sheriff Wiles has a great working relationship with (El Paso Police) Chief Allen," Leeser said, "So it's really important that we continue that relationship."
Leeser said he has known Wiles for years and has watched him develop into a great leader. "It's about proven leadership and not only has he done that as sheriff, but as chief of police," Leeser said, recalling Wiles' tenure as chief of police in El Paso.
Joe Wardy, a former El Paso mayor, appointed Wiles as interim chief and believes Wiles has the law enforcement background to lead the sheriff's office. "He has tremendous experience, he came up the ranks as a police officer, he understands the community, so he knows what has to be done," Wardy said.
Wiles recently suffered a setback when an arbitrator ruled he could not take desk jobs away from detention officers at the county jail. The sheriff said he was trying to reduce costs for county taxpayers by placing civilians in those positions, but the union representing deputies and detention officers said the move was putting people's lives in danger. The arbitrator ruled detention officers were entitled to those desk positions per the county's labor contract with the union.
"Sometimes, people at the top have to make unpopular decisions. That's the mark of a true leader. He's doing what needs to be done," Wardy said, "Unfortunately, there will always be people who are disgruntled."
"Certainly, the sheriff's office today is better than it was yesterday and it was better yesterday than it was in 2009 when I became sheriff," Wiles said Wednesday, "We have made difficult decisions but managed to keep our community safe while reducing the cost to taxpayers."