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No secret ballots when county delegation picks sheriff

Union Leader Correspondent

June 09. 2015 8:17PM
Eleven candidates in the running for Rockingham County sheriff attended a candidates' forum Monday night. (Jason Schreiber)

BRENTWOOD — Next week’s planned vote by the Rockingham County delegation to appoint a new sheriff will take place in public and not by secret ballot as some members had hoped.

State Rep. Norm Major, R-Plaistow, chairman of the delegation, made it clear at a candidates’ forum Monday night that voting by secret ballot wouldn’t be allowed after discussions with lawyers and the state Attorney General’s Office.

The delegation, which is made up of all 89 state representatives in the county, plans to meet on June 15 to appoint a new sheriff to replace the late Michael Downing, who died in April after battling cancer.

The new sheriff will serve out the rest of Downing’s term, which ends in January 2017.

Monday night’s forum held at the county complex gave the 11 candidates an opportunity to sell themselves to the delegation before the vote.

The candidates are:

• Plaistow police Lt. William Baldwin of Atkinson

• former sheriff’s candidate and long-time Hampton court clerk John Clark of Rye

• local police prosecutor and former county attorney candidate Michael DiCroce of Fremont

• Thomas Donovan of Salem

• former state Rep. Daniel Dumaine of Auburn

• former Salem Deputy Police Chief Bill Ganley of Salem

• Hampton police Lt. Dan Gidley of Hampton

• sheriff’s deputy and supervisory court bailiff Michael Hureau of Brentwood, a former state police lieutenant

• Derry police Sgt. Kevin Jackson of Auburn

• former sheriff’s candidate David Lovejoy of Portsmouth

• and Rockingham County Commissioner Thomas Tombarello of Sandown.

Baldwin said his background is focused on public safety and community building. He’s served in the Marines, Coast Guard, and has experience as a school board and selectmen chairman, police lieutenant and emergency management director.

“This background would ensure a seamless integration, keeping with the fine traditions of the Rockingham Sheriff’s Office. A seamless integration would allow the sheriff’s office a greater focus on serving the community,” he said.

Clark said he spent 37 years in the criminal justice system, beginning as a police officer in Hampton. He later became the director of evaluations for an agency that distributed federal funds to assist New Hampshire law enforcement and the criminal justice system. In 1978, he became clerk of the Hampton District Court.

“When you keep in mind that the primary statutory function of the office of sheriff is to enforce the orders of the court, I hope that you will find my 37 years of experience in the criminal justice system qualifies me for that job,” he said.

DiCroce said he began his career at the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office in 1991 as an assistant county attorney and later began prosecuting on his own for police departments, which he’s done for the past 18 years.

As a police prosecutor, DiCroce said he has experience reviewing warrants, reviewing the actions of police on the road, and understands chain of command, standard operating procedures and budgets.“That all helps me become what I think is the best candidate for sheriff because the sheriff’s department is a vast organization which does numerous things,” he said.

Donovan said he started his law enforcement career in the Army National Guard and then spent 17 years working in various positions at the Methuen, Mass., Police Department.

After working on countless substance abuse cases through his policing, Donovan said he retired in 2013 and received a master’s degree in mental health counseling and now works as a clinical program manager in elder services.

“I believe that my background in mental health and law enforcement gives me the well-rounded background that I think the Rockingham County sheriff needs,” he said.

Dumaine said he served in the Marines and later worked for the Keene Police Department, where his experience included undercover drug work. He was also a deputy sheriff in Cheshire County, worked for the public defender’s office, served as a state representative, and eventually became a private investigator.

“I have been on both sides, defense investigator and a law enforcement officer. I know both sides of the issue. The truth should come from both sides,” he said.

Ganley retired as Salem deputy police chief in 2010. He said he began as a part-time officer and worked his way up, gaining experience in budgeting and other duties.

“I think it’s important to have a broad background of experience in full-time law enforcement for this position of sheriff, but I think what’s more critically important is to have an extensive law enforcement executive management experience, and that’s hopefully what I’ll bring to the position if I’m so fortunate to be chosen,” he said.

Gidley is a lieutenant with the Hampton Police Department who said he’s been a “passionate law enforcement officer” for 28 years. He said he began his career in Hampton while also serving as harbormaster for the New Hampshire Port Authority. He became a full-time officer in 1991 and climbed through the ranks, serving in many different roles.

“I’ve been afforded many opportunities to learn, to grow, to develop myself as a leader in the community. If I’m elected to serve as the next Rockingham County Sheriff, I will use these skills to build on the successes of my predecessors and will develop new strategies and enhance the professionalism of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office for the Rockingham County citizens,” he said.

Hureau served 31 years with New Hampshire State Police and retired as a lieutenant. At the time he also commander of the narcotics investigation unit, a position he held for 13 years.

Hureau, who was a close friend of Downing’s, said he decided to run after being encouraged by several sheriff’s department employees.

“The untimely passing of Sheriff Downing has had a great impact on these employees because they thought so highly of him. I made a commitment to these employees to enter this race out of respect for them. What sets me apart from the other qualified candidates? I am currently a deputy sheriff and have been for the past 10 years. I know most of the employees in the department and I know how the department operates,” he said.

Jackson began his career 22 years ago and worked for the sheriff’s department as a deputy. He later took a job at the Derry Police Department.

“I believe the most important thing the sheriff can bring is honesty, integrity and high morals, and if you ask anybody who has worked for me or with me you’ll find that that’s who I am,” he said.

Lovejoy lost his bid for the sheriff’s position in the last two elections, but became interested in it after Wayne Vetter left the job in 1997.

He said he currently owns a security company.

At one point in his career, he said he had 187 employees under his management “and had to deal with everything from hiring to firing to budgets to meeting payroll.”Like other candidates, Lovejoy voiced concerns about the heroin epidemic and the need to continue fighting the problem.

Tombarello was a deputy sheriff in Essex County, Mass., for 15 years before retiring last October. He said he worked in the civil process department and was involved in child support arrests, evictions and vehicle seizures. He took over a family business after his father died.

Tombarello is also chairman of the county’s Board of Commissioners and is a selectman in Sandown.

He touted his experience as a commissioner.

“I know what it’s going to take to put a budget through the delegation and the commissioners,” he said, adding that he also knows how to handle “employee situations” after working with county employees.

Public Safety Politics Brentwood Local and County Government

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