Jackson County sheriff candidates disappointed after judge cancels primary election

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- “It couldn’t come at a worse time,” said Mike Rogers, a candidate for Jackson County Sheriff.

Rogers and the other four candidates in next week’s primary election for Jackson County Sheriff say they will continue their campaign despite Tuesday’s ruling.

A Jackson County judge ruled the county clerk violated the county charter by opening the candidate filing period for next week’s primary election to fill the sheriff's seat.

According to the charter, when the office of sheriff is vacated -- as it was when former Sheriff Mike Sharp resigned amid scandal last April -- an interim is appointed, and a replacement is picked by voters in the next scheduled general election. The charter is clear that there should not be a primary election in these cases.

Although Rogers is disappointed, he told FOX4 he wasn’t entirely surprised.

Mike Rogers

“This is actually the third time that a sheriff position was vacated during my tenure,” said Rogers, a captain in the sheriff’s department.

“So we thought that process was very well thought out, and we thought we knew what the process was," he said. "And we were all truly surprised when they decided upon this process.”

The Jackson County Republican and Democratic committees will now handpick a candidate from each party to face off in the November general election.

Ramona Arroyo, another democrat running for sheriff, told FOX4 she is upset and feels bad for her supporters, but will carry on. Republican candidate David Bernal had similar sentiments.

Interim Sheriff Darryl Forte said on Facebook he remains "excited and committed to serving, with a forward-focused mindset, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and resident of Jackson County, Missouri. There's much work to be done."

Republican candidate Randy Poletis did not respond to messages from FOX4.

FOX4 political analyst, and Kansas City Star columnist, Dave Helling said it’s unfortunate voters won’t have a say, at least for now, in the race.

It’s been many years since a Republican won the sheriff’s race in Jackson County. Helling suspects whomever the Democratic committee picks “will almost certainly” be the winner in November.

“You want voters to decide on most all of these issues every time there’s a possibility of doing it,” Helling said. “But it is illegal, at least in this circumstance.”

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