Competing signs for Cheshire County sheriff

Earl Nelson is mounting a write-in campaign to give voters a Republican option besides anarchist Aria DiMezzo for Cheshire County sheriff.

After cancer treatment kept Marlborough’s Earl Nelson off the ballot this summer, he has stepped forward as a write-in candidate for Cheshire County sheriff against Aria DiMezzo, a transgender, satanic anarchist who won the Republican primary unopposed.

Nelson, a longtime police officer, chief and current instructor at the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Academy, said he has a more traditional law enforcement philosophy than DiMezzo’s anarchism.

“You won’t find that anywhere in my resume,” Nelson said.

Nelson said DiMezzo does not have a strong chance against Democratic incumbent Eli Rivera, but he feels too strongly about law enforcement to leave the election to chance.

“I was approached by many people about running a write-in campaign. I mean, her philosophies regarding law enforcement are just so far outside the norm, I felt that I had to,” said Nelson, who has run as a Republican four times against Rivera.

Contacted Thursday, DiMezzo said she is as much a Republican in spirit as anyone in the GOP and should be the candidate of choice for conservative voters.

“Republicans are all about smaller government, lower taxes and gun rights. They are not going to find someone more in favor of smaller government, lower taxes and gun rights than I am,” DiMezzo said. “I just happen to take it a little bit further than they do.”

DiMezzo is a libertarian activist with the Free Keene group and founder of a satanic church. She ran as a Libertarian in 2018 on the platform of stopping the prosecution of laws she considers victimless, such as drug crimes and sex crimes.

When Nelson didn’t file to run on the GOP ticket in the September primary, DiMezzo signed up to run as a Republican. Her campaign slogan is “F*** the Police.”

Nelson said he was receiving cancer treatment over the summer when he decided not to run.

“Radiation really kicked my butt. All I wanted to do was sleep,” Nelson said.

Nelson recently finished the treatment and got a clean bill of health from his doctors. That’s when he decided to mount a write-in campaign to give Republicans uncomfortable voting for DiMezzo or Rivera an alternative.

“I’ve spent too long in this profession to have someone, even if it’s a long shot, get into a position where they would have that kind of authority. I can’t do that,” Nelson said.

DiMezzo has said the Cheshire County Republicans have only themselves to blame for her being on the ballot. She won overwhelmingly because most people vote for a political party without knowing anything about the candidate, she said.

DiMezzo said Thursday she wants to know why she would be rejected by Republican voters.

“If they have an issue with me because I am trans, or they have an issue with me because I am a satanist, or if they have an issue with me because I am an anarchist, they should just say so,” DiMezzo said. “I want them to explain to me what their issue with me is.”

DiMezzo likes her chances against Rivera more than Nelson’s. She said she only lost to Rivera once, while Nelson has lost to the Democrat four times.

Nelson said he wants to give voters another, more traditional option in the race. Right now, he’s busy attaching the words “Write in” to his old campaign signs.

“One thing I’ve got is a lot of signs,” he said.