The sheriff’s race is waaay down ballot, just after Register of Wills and before Central Committee. Yet the Sheriff’s race holds the potential for being one of the more interesting races because of everything which has led up to up it since the 2014 election cycle……
If this were a TV guide listing for The Sheriff Drama it would go something like this: Suburban sheriff re-elected despite not meeting residency requirement and refusing to take oath of office. MANY knew but looked the other way. County auditor exposed Sheriff paid deputies from Sheriff Office’s budget to assist with his re-election campaign. Later Sheriff is run out of town (but retained great benefits) for racist, anti-Semitic, and sexist comments and bullying of employees (revealed to the runner up.) Runner-up was overlooked for the vacant position, while a person –with same last name– was appointed Sheriff by Governor. Will runner up’s court case bring justice by exposing complicity? Will he ever get to be the sheriff and “clean up this town?”
Insomniacs may want to read my four blogs on the topic written between April and October of 2016 to jog your memory OR visit the back story for the first time.
There are two individuals in the Democrat primary race. (The incumbent has no primary opposition.) John Francis McMahon is again running for Sheriff in 2018 because in his words, “It’s the right thing to do.” According to his comments in the Business Monthly “I went to court to stop the cover up. Now we need to vote out the special interests. Now we need to take back the office for the citizens.”
Looking back, he states to the Business Monthly ‘The Howard County auditor found funds were used against me in the last election. Deputies were forced to campaign against me. When this information became available it was my duty to bring this out to a court case.”
Looking forward, he remarks to BizMo “The most important priority is to protect the civil and constitutional rights of the people.” To Vote 411 Voter Guide he shared his priorities “Transparency of the department. (My) Priority is to protect the legal rights of the people, especially civil rights, but also freedom of information rights and the enforcement of open meeting laws.” He continues, “Community cooperation is essential to law enforcement. I would welcome a non-partisan citizen review committee, open the sheriff’s office to the citizens’ complaints…. most importantly we must encourage citizens to bring in all their civil rights complaints.”
Some question his qualifications to be Sheriff since he has never served as a law enforcement officer. Yet interestingly, the only listed requirements to be a Sheriff in Maryland is to be a resident citizen in your jurisdiction and to take the oath of office. ‘The Sheriff performs police or corrections functions in jurisdictions where there are no County police or correction departments.’ Howard County has both. So, does the Howard County Sheriff really need to be an experienced ‘law man’ or do the day-to-day duties of the position look more like that of an administrator. With 40 years as president of a construction company following work in the comptroller’s office of Ford Motor Company, I suspect John McMahon has that skill set. His degrees in economics may position him well for better controlling the budget and the funds the Office collects.
The Sheriff’s duties list includes ‘carries out court orders, delivers summonses, and executes bench warrants.’ I suspect the sheriff doesn’t actually do much/any of that himself. That is what he has deputies for. But he does provide leadership to and sets the tone of the Office. Perhaps it is time to modernize our view of “Sheriff-ing”. Does it need to provide a double or triple dipping opportunity for former policemen? Does it need a heavy influence from the Union? Or is it time to regard the Office as one which works transparently to assure the common citizens—all the common citizens—have a place to turn with questions or complaints to assure their rights are being protected.
I don’t know how Mr. McMahon’s opponent feels on these issues. He doesn’t seem to have responded to survey questions from various groups for comparison. He (like the current Sheriff) has also refused to debate John McMahon. Yet Marcus Harris has the endorsement of his party. One can’t resist asking, HOW COME?
Whether or not you were one of the 42,692 who voted for John McMahon in 2014, I hope you will consider him anew—and meet me on the high road,