Cheshire County Sheriff candidates have different views on law enforcementBy DAMIEN FISHER
Union Leader Correspondent
October 01. 2018 10:38PM
KEENE — Which laws to follow and which laws to ignore are up for debate in the race for Cheshire County Sheriff, with incumbent Eli Rivera’s announced plans to step away from any agreement with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
The race for sheriff pits Rivera, the incumbent Democrat, against Republican Earl Nelson, a longtime police officer and New Hampshire Police Academy instructor. The contest also sees Libertarian candidate Aria Di Mezzo running on a platform to privatize the agency and stop enforcing drug and prostitution laws.
“You don’t have to necessarily agree with the law,” Nelson said. “But you can’t say ‘I’m not going to enforce that law.’”
Rivera announced in March he would not have the Cheshire County Sheriff’s Department sign any agreement with ICE to enforce immigration laws, and the agency will not participate in any raids or stings targeted at immigrants.
“As Sheriff, I do not want undocumented immigrants to fear the Sheriff’s Office, instead I want them to be able to approach and speak to any of my deputies without the fear that they will be turned over to ICE,” he wrote on his website.
Rivera did not respond to a request for comment. Nelson said Rivera’s immigration stance got him to run again for the office.
“When that happened, my phone and email exploded,” Nelson said.
Nelson sees the department’s mission along the traditional lines of serving as Superior Court security, transporting prisoners, and serving civil process papers. The department also provides law enforcement services to a few towns in Cheshire County.
Di Mezzo, possibly the only transgender candidate for sheriff in New Hampshire history, said the whole law enforcement system is an unjust scheme to steal money from people, and imprison them.
“It’s a racket,” she said.
Di Mezzo works as a radio host on the Liberty Radio Network. She named herself after a piece of music from the Final Fantasy video game series, and moved to New Hampshire this year and become part of the Libertarian community that has taken root in Keene.
Di Mezzo wants to see the Sheriff’s Department lead the way by refusing to enforce laws against what she called victimless crimes. That includes marijuana possession and prostitution. Di Mezzo considers herself an Anarcho Capitalist.
“It’s immoral and ineffective to use force, aggression, against people in order to achieve any particular goal,” she said.
Di Mezzo also wants to privatize the department, and said she would prepare theft warrants for any civil servant who tried to send the department revenue derived from taxes.
“Taxation is theft,” she said.
Di Mezzo said the current opioid crisis is borne out of desperation, and people in the grips of addiction need treatment as opposed to law enforcement intervention.
“They need hugs, not cuffs,” she said.