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Bracken, Howard to square off in race for sheriff

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:02 PM

Huron County Sheriff's Capt. James Bracken has filed petitions to run for sheriff.

"With the variety of capacities I've served in here and by working with the sheriff on budget issues and other administrative issues such as policies, I think that has prepared me administratively to be sheriff," Bracken said.

Bracken, who has been in the department for almost 17 years, will run as a Republican to replace his step-father, Sheriff Richard Sutherland.

Bracken said Sutherland has endorsed him for the position based on his professional qualifications.

Bracken started as a corrections officer in 1990. He worked road patrol for several years, was in the detective bureau for six years and was SWAT team leader for seven years. He was promoted to captain in 2006.

Bracken resigned from the sheriff's department in September 1993 and worked for several months as a New London police officer. "We had some layoffs in the sheriff's department and I was junior man," he said. When another officer left the sheriff's department and the financial situation improved, Bracken applied again and was re-hired for road patrol duties in 1994.

He said staffing and financial concerns will probably continue to be an issue for the department. "That's always going to be a concern," Bracken said.

Before joining the sheriff's department, Bracken served four years in the Marine Corps.

Bracken said he would not comment on any changes he will consider as sheriff at this point. "This has been a good department for a lot of years," he said.

Detective Sgt. Dane Howard, a Democrat, has also taken out petitions to run for sheriff. "I plan on filing them very soon," he said.

Kathleen Schaffer has already filed her petitions to run for re-election as county treasurer and Joe Kovach has filed his for county engineer. Both are Democrats.

Republicans Ralph Fegley and Gary Bauer have taken out petitions to retain their seats as commissioners. Democrat Sharon Ward has taken out petitions to run against Fegley.

Other incumbent officeholders that have taken out petitions are Republicans Susan Hazel for clerk of courts, Dr. Jeff Harwood for coroner and Tim Cardwell for probate and juvenile judge and Democrat Russ Leffler for prosecutor.

All petitions must be filed with the board of elections by Jan. 4.

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