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2018 Midterm Elections: Eight Black sheriffs elected in N.C.

By Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Contributor / November 16, 2018

For Democrats in North Carolina, the week-old 2018 midterm elections yielded some meaningful victories – Anita Earls was elected to the state Supreme Court locking in the Democrat majority 5-2; the Republican supermajorities Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has had to wrestle with since his election in 2016 have now been crippled, giving him more leverage and veto power over the GOP legislative majority; and North Carolina’s three congressional Democratic representatives are now part of the governing majority in the U.S. House.

But the victories didn’t stop there.

Eight of the state’s largest counties all elected African American sheriffs, replacing White incumbents, with Pitt County electing its first Black female sheriff, Paula Dance.

“Good law enforcement is always necessary but great law enforcement requires exceptional service with a common-sense approach gained through experiences within the department,” the history maker said. “Law enforcement is much more than just solving and deterring crime. Every interaction is an opportunity to enhance the quality of life for a citizen.”

Sheriff-elect Dance is also the first African American female sheriff in North Carolina history.

Some of the issues Dance, who is a veteran of the department, focused on during her campaign were keeping children safe in schools, being proactive in addressing the opioid epidemic by providing the proper supports to people in the jail who have committed low-level crimes to support their addiction. Dance also touted the use of body cameras as a way to keep deputies safe and honest. She added that the Pitt County Sheriff’s Department will continue to mirror the community with qualified people.

Wake County elected Gerald Baker; Durham County – Clarence Birkhead; Mecklenburg County – Garry McFadden; Cumberland County – Ennis Wright; Guilford County – Danny Rogers; Forsyth County – Bobby Kimbrough Jr.; Buncombe County – Quentin Miller; and Pitt, which elected the aforementioned Paula Dance to the highest law enforcement office in the county.

Guilford Sheriff-elect Danny Rogers ran on a platform focused on implementing effective community policing as a strategic priority to better engage Guilford residents resulting in more safety, less crime, and better outcomes.

Rogers believes that building trust, communication, and community interaction opportunities among residents and law enforcement will foster lasting relationships that support the overall health of the communities.

Reducing inmate recidivism by impacting former inmates as they become productive citizens while also providing for more safety and tax dollar savings for the entire community is Rogers’ objective.

Rogers is also looking to launch new “initiatives within the Sheriff’s Office focused on developing and retaining officers to improve morale and reduce the cost of attrition.

“Thank You Charlotte-Mecklenburg for electing me as “The People’s Sheriff,” Sheriff Garry McFadden said on his Facebook page.

For Durham, Guilford, Cumberland, Forsyth, Pitt and Buncombe, this was the first time in history that an African American had been elected sheriff. And in Wake, Guilford, Forsyth, Durham and Pitt, longtime Republican incumbents were unseated.

Post – midterm election analysis suggests that these newly elected sheriffs benefited from grassroots voter registration, get-out-the-vote drives and free rides to the polls in their counties.
In each successful campaign, the Black sheriffs-elect vowed to help bring their respective communities together.

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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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