REGION — When candidates run for certainly one of Maine’s 16 county sheriff places of work, they’ve the choice to affiliate with a political occasion and undergo a major election course of simply as a state senator or home consultant would. The reasoning behind candidates aligning politically stays obscure since as soon as elected, a sheriff is required by state law to relinquish the numerous advantages that include occasion affiliations.
“The one occasion benefit there may be when you select to take benefit of it’s, when you run — you can be a Democrat or a Republican — is you wanted assist via your specific occasion,” Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols stated in a cellphone interview. “You’d get further assist so far as possibly serving to you along with your marketing campaign and that would tackle a wide range of means.”
As soon as elected, a sheriff should refuse, from any particular person, any evaluation, subscription, contribution or political service whereas in uniform in keeping with Title 30-A, Chapter 1, Subchapter 6, Article 1, Section 355 of Maine’s Statutes.
Nichols, who is currently running for reelection as a Republican, stated that he’s by no means used the occasion to help his campaigns in any approach. The one main benefit he perceives with a candidate being party-affiliated is having to gather 150 signatures versus the required 300 for an unregistered candidate.
Regardless of the hurdle of gathering further signatures throughout Governor Janet Mills’ Stay Safer at Home Executive Order, Farmington Police Sergeant Edward Hastings IV was adamant on operating for the the Franklin County Sheriff workplace as an unbiased candidate.
“As I ready to doubtlessly run for sheriff, the very first thing I did was withdraw from the Republican Celebration. I view the sheriff as being accountable to offer regulation enforcement for everybody no matter political occasion,” Hastings stated in an electronic mail. “I consider that selections made shouldn’t be primarily based on occasion strains although quite for the perfect curiosity of all residents in Franklin County. (I’m not saying that’s what is completed proper now – I simply wish to be sure that isn’t an element.)”
Androscoggin Sheriff Eric Samson who’s at the moment serving his second time period, ran as a Democrat however wished there was extra of an emphasis on sheriff candidates themselves than the occasion they affiliate with.
“I don’t suppose occasion affiliation so far as operating for the occasion is a necessity for this workplace as a result of we’re all elected as constitutional officers with outlined roles, and it shouldn’t be a foundation for or a hindrance to somebody in search of workplace,” Samson stated.
Sheriffs have outlined roles as outlined by state law to behave because the “chief county regulation enforcement officer and is accountable for administering and directing the sheriff’s division as approved by the county finances.”
Nevertheless, sheriffs do have a much less outlined position in state laws the place they can advocate or contest proposed legal guidelines that they understand as both upholding or breaching civil liberties. Maine’s 16 county sheriffs meet on a month-to-month foundation, they usually additionally type a committee that weighs in on laws associated to regulation enforcement.
“You’ll see sheriffs become involved down in Augusta relating to issues of regulation enforcement, and also you’ll see us fairly often on the legal justice down there discussing the professionals and cons of particular person LD’s [legal documents] being offered and what the opinion of the Maine sheriffs are on that,” Nichols stated.
Throughout laws, Nichols stated that the committee of sheriffs meet each week and takes a place on a proposed coverage or regulation when deemed obligatory.
“And so politically, that’s how sheriffs actually characterize the constituents down in Augusta,” Nichols stated.
A sheriff’s political occasion or different partisan affiliations might make clear how a person will advocate for his or her county’s constituents on the state stage. Though, each Samson and Nichols stated they suppose the committee places apart partisan opinions when reviewing proposed laws.
In 2016, 12 of Maine’s 16 sheriff’s previously opposed the controversial Question 3 that may require expanded background checks on gun gross sales and transfers.
“I don’t just like the expectation as a result of I’m an elected official, a Democrat, that there’s this expectation that possibly I’ve to help each Democratic initiative or Democratic candidate,” Samson stated, who was one of many 12 sheriffs that opposed Query 3.
Nichols was additionally outspoken in 2016 about his notion of Query 3 infringing on folks’s rights and stated that he constantly advocates towards laws that he views as violating the second modification.
His second modification advocacy caught the eye of a nationwide group, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Police Officers Affiliation (CSPOA) which awarded Nichols Sheriff of the 12 months on Sep. 30. CSPOA is a far-right group that promotes a militaristic method to immigration and encourages states to develop their enforcement wherever federal management appears missing.
Nichols stated that he’s not a member of CSPOA and was not even conscious of the affiliation till six months in the past.
“You’ve bought teams on the market that attempt to manipulate you and discover you and they’re each on the left and proper,” Nichols stated. “That’s the terrible a part of politics, is the seedy underside of politics that I actually don’t like, and I don’t want folks defining who I’m. I do know who I’m. I don’t must be outlined by anyone else.”
Extra just lately, Nichols’ title was falsely cited on an anti-mask rally flyer that was set to happen on the similar location as a Trump rally in Bangor on Oct. 10. Nichols had agreed to talk on the position of a sheriff on the Trump rally, however backed out as soon as his title appeared on the anti-mask group’s flyer.
So far as partisan teams, Samson stated that he’s not concerned with any organizations however does take note of varied teams such because the Tea Celebration or the Maine Militia to higher perceive his constituents and colleagues.
“After I take a look at energetic teams, I’ve gotten data from the Maine militia teams and the place they’re,” Samson stated. “I do know sheriffs concerned with totally different teams and I say, ‘hey are you able to ahead data,’ so I can evaluate it to see what they’re considering.”
Hastings additionally stated that he has no involvement with partisan organizations and expressed some skepticism as as to if a sheriff may make unbiased selections if concerned with political teams.
“It’s not like I’ve ever been to a gathering of 1 occasion or one other the place they are saying you must do that or help that, however it simply looks like boy, the atmosphere might be there and I don’t need any a part of that,” Hastings stated in cellphone interview. “I actually simply wish to do an excellent job for the residents of Franklin County and make selections which are related to us.”