DOVER — Three candidates are vying lead the Kent County Sheriff’s Office following the November election.
Incumbent Brian Lewis aims to stay in office, while challengers Norman Barlow and Aarika Nelson want to take the seat. The election will be held on Nov. 8.
Mr. Barlow, 51, of Harrington, said he decided to run because “I’ve been a public servant pretty much my whole career. I want to help people and continue to use my expertise to keep giving back and doing the best I can for people.”
Harrington’s current city manager and recently retired police chief, Mr. Barlow said he’s qualified to be sheriff because, “I feel my training and my experience over the years allow me to deal with conflict resolution.
“I was able to manage in different areas throughout the city. I was able to pull a team together, I’m able to communicate, be transparent.
“I’m able to understand employees, listen to them and see what their needs are. But I’m also able to listen to the citizens and understand their needs and what we can do to come together to have an end result, a positive one.”
As to the most important functions of the office and how they would be handled, Mr. Barlow said, “When you’re dealing with different things such as foreclosures and sheriff’s sales, I think all of it’s very important to make sure that you communicate well with everyone that’s a part of it, including your employees
“And if there is something that might need to be changed, I want to listen to the whole team before I make any big decisions.”
Mr. Barlow said he would continue to serve as Harrington city manager if elected as sheriff.
Now a cashier at Dollar Tree, Ms. Nelson, 37, of Dover, said she’s running because, “I’m really just kind of here to throw a wrench into things. It’s kind of a protest against the Democrats and Republicans.
“I’m running because I want to represent the view of nonpartisan Delaware because frankly, that’s what the sheriff’s office really should be is a nonpartisan administrative merit office.
“And by merit, not by your party affiliation.”
Ms. Nelson said she’s qualified to be sheriff because of being a high school graduate and not having a criminal record.
“Pretty much any adult in the state meets the requirements,” said Ms. Nelson, emphasizing that the position is not open to just current or former law enforcement officers
“I really think what qualifies me specifically is I’m a mom of four. I live paycheck to paycheck. So I know how to balance (a) budget ...,”
According to Ms. Nelson, “I absolutely would make myself available to do this job full time (if elected) ...” she said.
If voters choose her to serve, Ms. Nelson said she would advocate for Kent County government and the General Assembly to create an “administrative office that’s based solely on qualifications, experience and merit.”
Ms. Nelson believes many of the existing duties could be rerouted to other offices and process services and auctions can just easily be contracted out to existing private contractors.
When announcing his re-election candidacy by issuing a statement, Mr. Lewis pointed to his time as a Dover City Councilman and stint as a member of the Capital School Board. His prior training, education and leadership experience in different governmental roles made him qualified to manage the sheriff’s office, he said.
Mr. Lewis was previously employed by the Delaware Department of Correction, lastly as a correctional training officer.
Mr. Lewis, who said he was unavailable for an interview, touted the office’s partnership with local and state agencies, volunteer organizations, courts and community services as vital to better serving the public.
According to Mr. Lewis, elected in 2018, he and sheriff staff members have worked tirelessly to bring transparency, accountability, and professionalism to the office.
Community engagement has been a large function of his role in office, Mr. Lewis said, noting that deputies have assisted in donating time and resources at local events while informing the public about the office.
Mr. Barlow’s affiliation is listed as Republican on the Board of Elections candidate list online, Mr. Lewis is as Democrat and Ms. Nelson as nonpartisan. Mr. Lewis filed to run on March 17, Mr. Barlow on March 25 and Ms. Nelson on June 23.
The Sheriff’s Office functions are described on the Levy Court website as “to service the Citizens of Kent County by performing many functions for the State of Delaware Courts (Superior Court, Court of Common Pleas, U.S. District Court and the Court of Chancery).
“The Sheriff’s Office serves legal notices to include (subpoenas, levies, summons, etc.) Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office auctions real estate in accordance with the Delaware Code.”