Hoffbauer, McGuffey meet the sheriff’s seat in Hamilton County

After a controversial Democratic primary in which Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil failed to get his own party’s approval, Democratic challenger Charmaine McGuffey now faces Bruce Hoffbauer for the county’s senior lawyer.

Both candidates have emphasized their law enforcement experience and desire to engage with the community, but questions about qualifications affect both campaigns.

McGuffey served in the sheriff’s office for 33 years, rose to the rank of major, and served as commander of the prison and judicial services for Hamilton County. She is the highest ranking woman in the history of the office. She left the department in 2017.

“I can feel the momentum of that 70 percent victory in the primary,” said McGuffey. “It made a really strong statement about my campaign, about what people want their criminal justice professionals to do in the general election, and I can literally feel the momentum driving the campaign.”

The department’s first openly gay candidate

She is also the first LGBT nominee for Hamilton County Sheriff and has grown to become one of the most notable LGBT figures in Cincinnati politics since the April primary.

“My job is to be an example of what you can achieve as an LGBT person because there is a lot of discrimination out there,” said McGuffey. “There have been many times that I’ve struggled to keep my sexual orientation to myself because I knew it would hurt my career if it came out.

“It feels great to be an LGBTQ candidate, but I know it’s a huge responsibility to prove to people that LGBTQ shouldn’t hold anyone back.”

Hoffbauer’s family ties

Hoffbauer served in the Cincinnati Police Department for 34 years and recently retired as Lieutenant and Assistant Commander of the 3rd District in Western Hills. Working in the sheriff’s office was a dream for Hoffbauer, as his father worked as the deputy sheriff for 52 years.

“Over time, I always got a feel for the sheriff’s office,” said Hoffbauer. “Timing is almost everything, and when I was at Cincinnati (Police Department) at the dusk of my career, I looked into the sheriff’s office and thought, ‘You know, this place raised me, put food in my stomach, put clothes on My back made my father’s career for 52 years. ‘I felt like I wanted to go back there. “

McGuffey criticized Hoffbauer for his lack of experience in the sheriff’s office, noting his underdog status and the problems that could lead him to switch to the role.

“He really has no experience running anything in the sheriff’s office, nor years of service,” said McGuffey. “He promotes that police department experience that he has as the end of it all, be everything, but the sheriff’s office has the prison and judicial services that I run and he has no budget management experience. He’s a Middle-level manager as a lieutenant and has no experience in any of the areas I was responsible for. “

Controversial past of the candidates

Hoffbauer criticized several incidents of McGuffey during her career in the Sheriff’s Department, most notably her demotion in 2017. An internal investigation found that McGuffey had created a hostile work environment for her subordinates and she was demoted to a civilian position. She left the sheriff’s office after the demotion, claiming the officers complained about her conduct because of her gender and sexuality. She has filed a discrimination complaint against the department in the federal court. The case is still pending.

“McGuffey hasn’t left too much of a blow. She has been cited on 31 cases in which she created a hostile work environment, all of which were sustained,” said Hoffbauer. “Is that the kind of person you want to run the department with that kind of past?”

However, Hoffbauer’s career was not free from controversy either. He was involved in the police force that shot the death of Walter Brown in Corryville in 1990. Then Hamilton County Attorney Arthur Ney ruled that Hoffbauer and a fellow officer had not broken the law, but city administrator Gerald Newfarmer said Hoffbauer had used excessive force. The incident has come back into the spotlight amid recent protests across the country against police brutality and racial injustice, including in Cincinnati.

About “defunding” the police

Many of these protesters have called for “disappointment” or to move funds away from law enforcement and into other community interests. Both McGuffey and Hoffbauer do not support the idea of ​​defusing the police, but McGuffey believes that social workers should play a bigger role in law enforcement by providing specialized assistance in cases where an officer’s life is not imminent and an armed officer may not be required.

“A lot of the runs we respond to are social ills – addictions, mental health crises, people struggling with everyday things,” said McGuffey. “If we can direct people to the right place to get help instead of locking them up, that’s what we want to do.”

Hoffbauer disagrees, pointing out the need for armed officers in any interaction with the public.

“When you talk about social services … I’m definitely behind it because we need that in the prison system,” said Hoffbauer. “But when you take armed officers away from social workers in situations, you create a recipe for disaster.”

He suggests introducing a similar system that works at the Cincinnati Police Department, sending social workers along with armed officials to deal with non-violent situations such as mental health crises.

Similarly, McGuffey is helping to some extent in the demilitarization of the sheriff’s office by taking note of the unneeded military surplus vehicles and equipment where taxpayers’ money is wasted.

“I don’t want to buy more tanks or bullets. I want to invest in the human factor. That’s how I count the strength of our department,” said McGuffey.

Here, too, Hoffbauer disagrees and points to the need for surplus military equipment for certain high-risk situations.

“You must have a firepower equal to or greater than the firepower you are faced with,” he said. “We can’t go in there like we’re going into an armed battle, but you must have this equipment available if something really bad and terrible happens.”

Charmaine McGuffey and Bruce Hoffbauer will face each other in the November 3rd general election. Ohio voters have until October 5 to register for the November 3 general election. Voters can also request a postal vote on the Hamilton County Board of Elections website.

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