Letter: Former deputy expresses concerns (Oct. 12, 2022)


This letter is from my own experiences and interactions working as a Deputy Sheriff for the Linn County Sheriff’s Office alongside both Jon Raymond and Michelle Duncan.

I worked at the Sheriff’s Office for 24 years, and only recently retired. I have always strived to give the best service I could to the citizens of Linn County, and to treat everyone with honesty, fairness and respect. During my time at the Sheriff’s Office I achieved the rank of patrol lieutenant. I believe I earned this position by hard work and trying to be the best leader I could be.

Sheriff Dave Burright hired me in 1997 and stressed in my interview with him, that no matter what we do in this career, we should always do what we believe is the right thing no matter how unpopular it may be. With Sheriff Burright’s words still echoing inside me, I have decided to come forward and share some of my experiences with these two candidates for Linn County Sheriff. I am speaking of my own experiences interacting with each candidate during these past several decades.

Jon Raymond and Michelle Duncan are very different people. They have applied themselves in different ways in navigating their careers forward and making relationships with those that matter to them.

Jon Raymond has worked in both the Corrections Division and Criminal/Patrol Division during his career with the Sheriff’s Office.

Michelle Duncan has worked in the Criminal/Patrol Division at the Sheriff’s Office the majority of her career. There was a break in service at the Sheriff’s Office when she quit to go to work at the Salem Police Department, only to return to the Sheriff’s Office a short time later. 

Jon worked hard in the jail and built relationships with coworkers as well as inmates. He took each task assigned and worked through them. He came to work patrol and brought his hard work ethics and high standards of service with him to the road. He focused on building relationships with all kinds of people from different walks of life. 

Jon told me on more than one occasion that he felt a sense of responsibility if he was unable to complete an investigation, and did not want to give up. Jon learned to communicate well with his peers and the public. I came to rely on Jon immensely during difficult and dangerous calls for service. Jon proved to me he was a leader among his peers and brought a calm demeanor and competency with him to stressful and difficult cases.

Jon worked hard in building relationships with the public by building a network for information sharing and problem solving among the groups and people he interacted with on a daily basis.  Jon made community relationships a priority, as those are what mattered to him, and still do.

Michelle also worked in the criminal division. Michelle focused and worked hard at relationship-building with those in the office that could have an impact on moving her career forward and upward. She worked tirelessly in aligning herself with individuals that were in positions of power within the Sheriff’s Office.

Michelle worked in a supporting role during most of her detective time, and as a Patrol Programs lieutenant.  As Patrol Programs lieutenant, Michelle provided support directly to the patrol captain. She handled tasks assigned and primarily worked in an administrative role. Michelle spent a small fraction of her time supervising a patrol team before being promoted into the Patrol Programs position.

Once Sheriff Yon took office, Michelle doubled down and it was clear the relationships that mattered most to her were those with the upper management, and all else were second. I have personally witnessed numerous situations in which Michelle engaged in conduct as a manager, making remarks about colleagues that I found to be distasteful, inappropriate, and extremely unprofessional. 

As a voter in Linn County, I can only support truth, honesty and transparency. I cannot support, or tolerate, self-serving agendas.

The people of Linn County are more important than someone’s egotistical motivations to seek power over others. There are many parts to the story of the Linn Sheriff’s Office.

Continuity is not always the best path.  

James Welch

Citizen and voter

in Linn County