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May 21, 2010

The Sheriff’s Race

Joe Charlebois

With the election season now underway nationally, it is time to turn to one of the more interesting local races – the race for sheriff of Frederick County.


Currently no Democrats have thrown their hat into the proverbial ring, but former Sheriff’s Department number two man Karl Bickel has decided to challenge the popular one-term Sheriff Chuck Jenkins in the fall. Mr. Bickel is running unaffiliated – as he must being a federal employee – and expects to challenge the sheriff in the fall if he is able to garner enough signatures to put his name officially on the ballot.


The contrast between the two personalities is stark, and Mr. Bickel is intent on pointing that out. What has been obvious since his dismissal at the hands of former Sheriff Jim Hagy, is that Mr. Bickel is good at complaining and not so good at presenting alternatives.


Mr. Bickel’s top three concerns are (as Katherine Heerbrandt pointed out in her April 15, 2010, profile in The Gazette) “morale, fiscal management, and long-term strategic planning – including consolidation of like functions.”


With all due respect, the sheriff has provided strong fiscal management, saving the county millions in cost cuts and seeking reimbursement for the housing of inmates as part of the 287(g) program and other federal detainees.


Admitting that he may not have the greatest fans in his staff of deputies, he does give credit to their dedication and hard work. He has great respect for his deputies. But his disagreement with his deputies over the use of publically owned vehicles and equipment for moonlighting jobs was not meant to create a wedge between the deputies and their sheriff; it was simply a matter of fiscal responsibility.


The points that Mr. Bickel has raised against the sheriff tend to fall flat. Chuck Jenkins has respect from the community. He has been fiscally responsible. He has been dedicated to upholding the law. He has worked well in conjunction with all levels of law enforcement.


Recently a letter to the editor in The Gazette pointed out that the sheriff shouldn’t be the sheriff because he doesn’t have the same levels of education that Mr. Bickel has. This elitist point of view was so condescending and short sighted that it is troubling.


When one does review the two candidates’ resumes, the one most important qualification that sets the two apart is that Sheriff Jenkins has successfully run the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office for nearly four years!


That is by far the most important resumé requirement and the most relevant when deciding who should be our Sheriff for the next four years.


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