Incumbent Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger and his challenger, Virginia Leigh, have completed questionnaires about their candidacies as part of the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Know Your Sheriff campaign.
You can read their responses here:
Both candidates are Democrats and will appear on the Sept. 6 primary ballot. There is no declared Republican candidate, meaning the winner of the primary will likely secure a six-year term in office.
According to the ACLU, the questionnaires and related voter guides are part of the Know Your Sheriff campaign’s mission to inform voters about the role of sheriffs.
Since its official launch in April, the campaign has worked in partnership with organizations across the state, including the League of Women Voters, Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition, the Massachusetts Voter Table and the NAACP, to bring information to voters.
In addition to ongoing voter education and mobilization efforts, the Know Your Sheriff campaign is hosting candidate debates and forums in select contested districts, including Hampshire and Essex counties next week.
A poll commissioned by the ACLU shows a lack of knowledge among Massachusetts voters about the roles and responsibilities of sheriffs. Fewer than one-in-five voters (17 percent) can correctly name their local sheriff. The same poll shows that after learning more about sheriffs, 71 percent of voters say they are very likely to vote in the next election for local sheriff, a 26-point increase from the start of the survey (45 percent).
The poll also shows that voters prioritize providing mental health and drug treatment, education and vocational training, and reentry services over punishing people convicted of crimes.
The ACLU noted that it is a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse or oppose any candidate for office. The ACLU said its goal is to promote voter education and voter participation.