The Midterm Elections of 2022 are going to be consequential for America’s law enforcement. Across the country, citizens will have the opportunity to vote on ballot measures and candidates who will determine the state of law & order where they live. After nearly two years of failed “defund” inspired policies, safety in our communities is on the ballots.
As we have covered extensively, Sheriffs are often the last line of defense for the rule of law at the county level. As many areas in the country look to bring spiking crime under control, the winners of Sheriffs races this year will help set the tone for law enforcement policies moving forward.
Below are five races we are paying attention to this Spring:
Since 2018, former police officer and Major League Baseball official, Earnell Lucas, has served as Milwaukee’s Sheriff. He defeated acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt, in Democratic primary that year to secure the nomination and subsequent victory. Now, he has been running for the vacant mayoral seat in the city, leaving the Sheriff’s office open to a new leader.
“…six candidates including Deputy Sheriff Denita Ball, sheriff’s Capt. Thomas Beal, Inspector and Commander of the Investigative Services Bureau Brian Barkow, Correctional Lt. Mohamed Awad and corrections officer Anthony Torres. A sixth candidate, Richard Kruszka, has filed paperwork to run but his background could not be confirmed.”
Douglas County, Wisconsin
The primary to determine the candidates for Sheriff of Douglas County will be held in May. The frontrunners thus far all have extensive histories in law enforcement.
On the Democratic side, there is Greg Gonzalez and Wayne Hudson. Greg Gonzalez is the now retired chief of Omaha police, with considerable endorsements. These include former Omaha mayors, state senators, and the county’s sheriff’s union, according to KETV Omaha. Gonzalez had spent 29 years in the Omaha Police Department.
His primary challenger is Sheriff Deputy Wayne Hudson. Hudson’s endorsements include former local police chiefs and the current Sheriff of Douglas County. He has served 28 years in the sheriff’s office.
The winner between these two Democrats will face Republican Aaron Hanson. Hanson has served 25 years in law enforcement and is currently a sergeant in the Omaha Police Gang Unit and Fugitive Task Force. His endorsements include current office holders, Gov. Pete Ricketts, Omaha police chief Todd Schmaderer and Mayor Jean Stothert.
Hennepin County, Minnesota
Current Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson has been subjected to political backlash after admitting that he was apprehended for drunk driving on December 8, 2021. After mounting pressure to resign, he has decided not to enter this year’s election for Sheriff. Now there are several law enforcement professionals running to replace him, reports KARE 11.
One is Mark Klukow, lieutenant & 27-year veteran of the Minneapolis PD. “I’ve learned that we all have a universal desire to feel safe in our communities, feel that our voices are heard, and a need to feel we are receiving equitable service,” he said announcing his candidacy.
Another is Major Dawana Witt. Major Witt currently oversees the county’s Court Security and Adult Detention divisions. Like many of the candidates in this race, she is campaigning with the message of reform. “I want to make positive changes for the citizens of Hennepin County that balance the needs for increased public safety and sensible law enforcement reforms,” she said.
Finally, there is Jai Hanson, Minneapolis native, who has served 14 years between two metro police departments. Much of the race this year will have the shadow of the George Floyd’s death. Hanson is running to restore the rule of law which was thrown out the window by local politicians after this tragedy. “In other words when any city abdicates their responsibility to keep their citizens safe, then the Sheriff has every right to move in and provide the law enforcement services those citizens deserve,” he says on his campaign website.
Limestone County, Alabama
In August of last year, the longest serving sheriff in Alabama history, Mike Blakely, was sentenced to three years in prison on corruption charges. Now, 6 candidates are running to take his place in this year’s elections.
The field includes five Republicans: Joshua Mclaughlin, Fred Sloss, Eric Redd, Jeffrey Kilpatrick and Chris Carter. Independent candidate, Randy King, is also in the race. All the candidates have a history in either local law enforcement or the county’s sheriff’s office, except for Eric Redd, who is a veteran of the United States Army. For a more detailed history on each candidate visit CBS affiliate News 19 here.
At a local townhall style event, the five Republican candidates agreed the five most pressing matters facing the county are: staff shortages, budgeting, drug problems in the county, safety, and former Limestone Sheriff Mike Blakely. Independent Randy King did not attend the local Republican Women’s Club where the forum was held.
Sacramento County, California
The current Sheriff of Sacramento County, Scott Jones, has declared a bid for Congress. So far, the race for County Sheriff has one candidate, Jim Cooper, running unopposed.
Jim Cooper is a Sacramento native who has an extensive 30-year career in law enforcement, notes ABC 10 in Sacramento. He has been a member of the California State Assembly since 2014, but “was also once a captain for the County Sheriff’s Department, worked as an undercover narcotics officer and gang detective,” the outlet reports.
One of the biggest issues he hopes to tackle in the county is homelessness, which he believes the sheriff has a role in solving. His approach would be to integrate more mental health and substance abuse services.
“Most of the calls for law enforcement services center around individuals who are unhoused that have mental, or substance abuse (problems). We’ve got to fix that.” Sheriffs play an important role in law enforcement in America and are essential in maintaining rule of law and American liberties. Sheriff elections need your vote!