The selection proved conventional wisdom wrong. Numerous insiders thought Ralph Martin, also with the LA County Sheriff's Department, and acting OC Sheriff Jack Anderson might have garnered better support from the five-member panel. Martin got two votes, and Anderson captured one. Hutchens and Walters grabbed four each. Beau Babka, an undersheriff from Salt Lake City, and ex-OC Sheriff's Lieutenant Bill Hunt failed to win a single vote.

Later this month, the supervisors will make their selection after the two remaining candidates undergo a professional background check. Walters supporter Supervisor Chris Norby, knowledgeable of derogatory rumors about the police chief, attempted to bypass the background check.

"The time for the decision is now," he told his colleagues. "Of the two finalists, with all due respect to Sandra Hutchens, Walters has the better experience. He's a super candidate."

But Supervisors Bill Campbell, Janet Nguyen and Pat Bates—who also appear to favor Walters—said the background checks are required by law.

rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com

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