Cecil County Sheriff 2014: Sutton Files Again; Adams, School Officer Chief, Files GOP Primary Challenge
Election campaign 2014 for the always hotly-contested Cecil County Sheriff election began this week with third-time candidate Chris Sutton filing as a Republican candidate and political newcomer Scott Adams, chief of the Sheriff’s department school resource officer program, also filing in the GOP primary.
Sutton, a current Deputy in the sheriff’s department, had made no secret of his plans to run again for Sheriff, after two previous losing runs for elective office. He has held several fundraisers in the past few years to keep his candidacy, and campaign fund, alive. Sutton’s campaign website is here: http://www.suttonforsheriff.com/
Scott Adams, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Towson University, is a life-long Cecil County resident who resides in Rising Sun. He has served 20 years with the local Sheriff’s department and is currently the supervisor of that agency’s public schools “resource officer” program that places deputies in local schools to deter crime and work with young people to address problem behavior.
An interesting—and important– sidelight of the Adams candidacy is his announcement that his “chief deputy” or second in command would be retired senior deputy Gerry Widdoes. The highly respected Widdoes had 25 years of service with the department and holds a law degree from the University of Maryland. The inclusion of Widdoes on Adams’ team gives the political neophyte substantial credibility.
In announcing his candidacy, Adams told county residents that he hoped to “earn your trust and support.” And he said he would work to continue drug enforcement activities in which he was previously involved
Adams’ resume with the county Sheriff’s department includes work with the K9 unit, drug awareness and education programs, and work as a patrol corporal, sergeant and supervisor of the school resource officer unit. Among Adams’ awards is 2009 state deputy of the year by the Maryland Sheriff’s Association for contributions to the profession.
In announcing his candidacy, Adams said he would have a “smooth transition” and “cooperation of the outgoing administration” of current Sheriff Barry Janney, who has said he would not run again in 2014 unless he felt there were no “qualified” candidates running to replace him. Janney beat Chris Sutton in the past two Sheriff’s elections.
Adams’ entry into the race poses some interesting matters for voters to consider. Especially since the Newtown, Connecticut deadly attack on schoolchildren, many parents are concerned about their children’s safety in schools, and Adams has been in charge of overseeing school safety here. Cecil County has had no similar attacks on schools in recent years.
“I take children’s safety with the utmost seriousness,” Adams said. “We have to continue to learn from the unspeakable tragedies that have happened in our nation’s schools over the past several years.
Meanwhile, past GOP candidate Dan Slater has said he plans to run again, although he had not yet filed for the 2014 election. Slater put up a credible, although losing, GOP primary race against Janney and has a solid base of support.
Slater’s expected candidacy, along with that of Sutton—a former Democrat who suddenly switched his party affiliation a few months ago—and Adams’ newly announced run, means that the Republican primary for Sheriff will be crowded. Unclear at this early stage is what the Democratic side of the political aisle will produce for the 2014 Sheriff’s election.
[SEE our previous Cecil Times special report on the political outlook for the 2014 Sheriff’s race and interviews with Sutton and Slater here:
[UPDATE: Sutton, who responded Thursday to Cecil Times’ Wednesday request for comment, said that his new challenger was “not a bad guy” but questioned Adams’ range of experience.
Supervising school safety is “a very important part” of the Sheriff’s Department’s mission, Sutton said, “But it is only one piece of the puzzle; it’s not the entire package.”
Sutton said his own leadership team would bring diverse experience in crucial parts of the agency’s duties, including Kenneth Russell as his chief deputy. Russell is a veteran drug crime investigator in the Cecil County Sheriff’s department and other agencies, Sutton said, and he will bring senior leadership skills into waging the war on drugs in the county that is at the top of Sutton’s priority list.
A significant portion of the Sheriff’s Department’s budget and duties involve operating the detention center, and Sutton said Eugene Tuer would bring years of experience in that field to his leadership team. Tuer, who currently heads the criminal justice program at TESST College in Towson, formerly was superintendent of the Cecil County jail and also headed the community corrections and work release programs.
Politically, Sutton said he wasn’t worried that the Republican primary was getting crowded. “I think the more people that enter the Republican race, it’s an advantage for me,” he said. Multiple candidates would split the vote against him, Sutton pointed out, enabling him to top a crowded field of candidates.
“I’ve been out there for years,” he said, and “people know me.” Entering the race now is “really a little late,” Sutton said.]