Chad Schmidt wins re-election as sheriff

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Editor's note: This story was updated at 10:50 a.m. on Nov. 7, 2018.

BENNINGTON — Bennington County Sheriff Chad Schmidt fended off two challengers in his bid for another four-year term.

According to unofficial results from the secretary of state's office, Schmidt received 8,202 votes, against 4,412 for James Gully Jr., and 1,074 for Beau Alexander Sr.

Schmidt won his third term as sheriff since being appointed to the post in 2009.

"I'm very humbled," he said Tuesday night. "I'm honored that people came out to vote on a not great weather day. I want to thank my supporters and friends and family, who've all worked hard for the past several months."

Gulley and Schmidt previously faced off in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary, which the incumbent won by 399 votes.

However, Gulley had simultaneously submitted voter signatures for a spot on the November ballot as an independent. Alexander also qualified for an independent ballot line through voter signatures.

Schmidt contended that his experience after working his way up through the ranks in the department over 24 years, becoming involved or forming collaborative associations with numerous agencies and community or business organizations here and statewide, and concluding a wide range of contracts for 
services and managing them makes him the right candidate for the position.

Gulley, 39, is a former Bennington Police Department officer and has since worked with the Manchester Police Department as part of a regional drug task force involving several police agencies. He also served as the law enforcement instructor at the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center.

Alexander, 34, of Shaftsbury, is a contractor with the Department of Homeland Security and has worked with the Vermont Department of Probation and Parole.

Gulley promised a clearly stated vision of where the organization should go in the future. He said he would create two small drug task force teams within the department to help combat the opioid addiction crisis. 

Both challengers said they would put a 5 percent administration fee for the sheriff on contracts the department concludes for services like patrolling in towns back into programming.

Alexander also promised to plow the 5 percent management fee for contracts back into the department budget for programming. And said he would put another 25 percent of his base salary as sheriff into programming.

Schmidt, 42, said in response that a county sheriff's department "essentially operates like a business."

That's because, beyond a small percentage of the budget that comes from state funding, the services the sheriff and deputies provide are "all based on contracts," he said.

The incumbent said his management has been effective in allowing a new headquarters building in Bennington and expansion of the number of deputies to 34, among other improvements or upgrades. 

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont, including the Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal.


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