A longtime law-enforcement officer says he will mount a write-in campaign for Durham County sheriff to fight the county’s political “descent into anarchy and criminality.”
“The radicals are consciously creating an atmosphere where hardened criminals are considered victims,” Sheriff’s Office Maj. Paul Martin said Friday. “This enabling behavior is spreading like a virus to our schools and is destroying discipline and academic achievement.
"Many of our most vulnerable neighborhoods have become breeding grounds for gangs and drug cartels," he continued. "The radicals pushing this agenda do not live in our most vulnerable neighborhoods, nor do their children attend the schools most damaged by their ideologically driven actions.”
Clarence Birkhead, a former police chief in Hillsborough and Duke University, won last week's Democratic primary for sheriff, defeating incumbent Mike Andrews.
In a statement, Birkhead said it is “unfortunate,” that a write-in candidate has come forward.
Birkhead “strongly disagrees” with Martin’s assessment “that Durham is being driven by extreme radicals and by people who want to create racial hatred,” Birkhead said..
“Since the candidate made these statements, it makes me wonder what he has been doing for 17 years and most recently as Major of Operations,” Birkhead said. “As sheriff, I will focus on reducing crime in our communities and making Durham safe for everyone.”
Birkhead said he focusing on working with Sheriff Mike Andrews on a smooth transition.
There are no Republicans on the November ballot.
Martin, 67, has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 17 years, and before that with the Durham Police Department for 19 years. He has submitted a form declaring his intent to run, he said, and will start to gather signatures.
In an interview, Martin said he expects his statements will make some people mad, but he also expects to inspire people to vote.
"If I hear another incident where a black man shoots a black man and people say it is systemic racism that caused it,” Martin said, he will “throw up."
“That is denying a person is responsible for his own actions,” he said.
A write-in candidate for a single-county contest requires 100 verified signatures of registered voters of the applicable area, said George McCue, Durham County’s deputy director of elections.. Write-in candidate notification is required by Aug. 8. Candidates who lost in the primary may not run as a write-in (or unaffiliated) candidate.