Know Your Sheriff update

When the MA chapter of the ACLU launched its Know Your Sheriff campaign in April, many people’s attention was drawn to how few MA citizens know who their Sheriff is, what he (all 14 Sheriffs are men, for now) does, how much money is involved, what services people in custody get, and more.

Only 17% statewide could name their Sheriff, which is pretty disappointing for such a highly educated and politically astute state. In Hampshire County, the statistic was only 13%, which is especially disappointing but not surprising. This is exactly why we need to open up the discussion and bring transparency to the Sheriff’s role. So I thought I would share some maybe-good news, and maybe not: although plans to enter the Sheriffs’ races in these counties were no doubt already well underway when the ACLU launched its KYS campaign (mine certainly was), it appears as though the campaign for greater awareness of the Sheriff’s role has brought about some results, or at least more participants. The KYS campaign informed us that in 2016, only 4 Sheriff’s races were contested (they did not indicate whether any were contested in the primary only, as Hampshire’s now is). In 2022, 9 Sheriffs’ races are contested, if we count both the primary and the general elections. The uncontested seats will be retained in the following counties: Franklin D), Hampden (D), Middlesex (D), Norfolk (D), and Plymouth (R). The contested-only-in-the-primary seats are: Berkshire (D), Dukes (D), Essex (D), Hampshire (D), and Suffolk (D); there are no opponents from other parties, so whoever wins the primary will be the only name on the November ballot in those races. The races that will be settled in November are: Barnstable (the present Sheriff is retiring), Bristol, Nantucket, and Worcester. Perhaps even more notable is that there are 5 women in this year’s Sheriffs’ races, among 4 contests: Barnstable, Essex, Hampshire (2), and Suffolk. The not-so-good news is that technically, there will only be 4 contested races in the November election again, though a few of the primary contests look lively, including our own. And it is conceivable that every incumbent could still win re-election, as happened in 2016. So although we have made some notable progress in the diversity of candidates, we will have to see if September and then November ushers in a new and better-informed era with regard to the Sheriffs’ races. And if any of the women in the Barnstable, Essex, and Hampshire races win their contests, they will make history as the first women Sheriffs of their county; only one woman has been Sheriff in MA and that was Andrea Cabral who was the Suffolk Sheriff before the incumbent. #KnowYourSheriff  #KnowYourNextSheriff  #YvonneForSheriff