Thank you, Jack Vanasse (note sent today to Jack Vanasse, former candidate for Hampshire County Sheriff)
Dear Jack—thank you for stepping up and making the courageous and duty-driven decision to run for Hampshire County Sheriff. You brought some much-needed attention to the race, and you raised some important questions that the voters of Hampshire County need to consider.
I know first-hand how difficult running for office is as a first-time candidate; it’s incredibly costly in terms of time, money, and attention, and becoming a political candidate is a STEEP learning curve. So I have enormous respect for the difficult decision you reached in stepping out of the race earlier this week. I hope you will continue to stay involved in the election by continuing to raise important questions and issues that need to be discussed—we need your voice and perspective in bringing about the change that urgently needs to occur in our county. You and I agree on many significant concerns about the Hampshire County Jail: the poor working conditions and mismanagement on multiple levels that cause low morale, stagnation, and staff departures; the woefully inadequate state of technology that makes the job more difficult than it needs to be; the lack of available and documented training using current best practices, especially those focusing on conflict de-escalation; the overall lack of direction and leadership that make the facility unsafe; and the lack of access to essential services to which incarcerated individuals are entitled. And all of this at enormous cost to the taxpayers who have no idea about any of this—but they are starting to pay attention, and that’s due in part to the questions you brought by joining the race. Voters have taken notice that three former employees who worked under this administration took the extraordinary step of challenging an incumbent, with each of us coming from very different perspectives yet all saying the same thing: what we know is happening (or not happening) at the HSO would be completely unacceptable to the voters of Hampshire County—if they only knew what we know. So thank you for stepping up and contributing your voice as you did your civic duty and offered your service to the citizens of our community, and I know we all support your decision to prioritize the needs of your family. You have my appreciation and respect, and I hope this is not the last we will hear from you; you have an important perspective to share.
Thank you, and kind regards—Yvonne Gittelson