Gate opens fast, wide for 2012 sheriff race
A week after Mahoning County Sheriff Randall Wellington announced he would not seek re-election, candidates are lining up to replace him.
Jerry Greene, a 22-year member of the sheriff’s office, is the first candidate to publicly announce his plans to run in the March 2012 Democratic primary.
After Greene’s Wednesday announcement, recently retired Youngstown Police Chief Jimmy Hughes told The Vindicator he would run in the Democratic primary for sheriff.
Also, Poland Township Police Chief Brian Goodin said he was “strongly considering” a campaign to be county sheriff. Goodin said he’ll make a formal announcement on his candidacy in the next couple of weeks.
James Lewandowski, who retired in May as the sheriff’s chief deputy after 36 years of law-enforcement experience, said he is “certainly” considering a run for sheriff, and would have a decision very soon.
Deadline to file for the primary is Dec. 7.
As first reported Wednesday on Vindy.com, Greene resigned as a captain, and Wellington appointed him to a nonlaw-enforcement job with the department.
Greene was in charge of the night shift at the county jail as a captain. He now is the director of jail services, responsible for overseeing food services, inmate programming and the jail’s medical contract.
Greene resigned his civil- service classified position to run for a partisan political post, as required by state and federal law.
Wellington said he transferred Greene because the director of jail services position was open, and Greene is qualified for the job. The sheriff said he would do that for anyone in a similar situation with the necessary qualifications.
Greene earned about $68,000 last year in base-pay salary and said this job pays about the same.
Greene said he has “hands-on and supervisory experience” in every facet of the sheriff’s department.
“Working up through the ranks, I learned the job” of being sheriff, he said.
Greene of Boardman was hired in November 1989 as a reserve deputy. He became a full-time deputy in December 1992. He was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and to captain in 2007.
If elected, Greene said his “biggest focus is on the 200 empty beds in our jail. It’s unacceptable to me. We need to deal with the underfunding and understaffing of our jail.”
Greene thanked Wellington for appointing him director of jail services, a job that allows him to work at the department while campaigning for sheriff.
Wellington of Youngstown said he would wait until after the Dec. 7 filing deadline before endorsing a candidate to succeed him. The sheriff added that so far the list of candidates looks good.
Wellington has served as sheriff since 1999, and has more than 50 years of law enforcement experience, including 12 years as Youngstown police chief.
Hughes, who retired Sept. 1 after 34 years on the Youngstown police force including his last 51/2 years as chief, said his experience with the city police department makes him an ideal candidate for sheriff.
“I’m in a good position to help the rest of the county based on my experience,” he said. “I can see myself aiding the city and the other communities” as sheriff.
Lewandowski, Wellington’s chief deputy before retiring, said his decision on running will be based on family considerations and the economy. When asked to explain the economy’s impact, Lewandowski said he’s referring to raising money for a campaign as well as “working in a fiscally-challenging environment” at the sheriff’s office.
Lewandowski of Boardman has 36 years of law enforcement experience including 27 years at the sheriff’s department.
Goodin said he’s joining the race and will have a more formal announcement in a couple of weeks.
Goodin has 28 years of experience in law enforcement including 19 in Poland, the last seven as police chief.
“I want to apply principles of what I created in Poland to the rest of the county,” he said.