UNION COUNTY—Dr. Charles E. Mitchell, Sr. is running for Union County Sheriff in the June 8 Democratic primary election because he says incumbent Ralph Froehlich’s 33 years in the job is too long.
Mitchell, a Roselle resident who is employed as an Essex County Sheriff’s Officer, is also an ordained minister who presides as pastor of the True Vine Baptist Church.
“We need a sheriff concerned about public safety and not one who mixes police work with politics,” said Mitchell, who said the incumbent has become so much a part of the corruption that plagues New Jersey.
Froehlich earned mention in “The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption,” a book by veteran journalists Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure.
Observers say Mitchell could pose a serious threat to Froehlich because most voters feel nobody should be in elected for 33 years and there has been a recent host of scandals in the sheriff’s office.
Just days after Froehlich was re-elected three years ago, 13-year-old Elijah Henderson was slain by a masked gunman while riding his bike in Elizabeth. Several high profile escapes and prisoner deaths have brought shame to the Union County Jail in recent years.
A lawsuit filed by a former sheriff’s officer who was the victim of sexual harassment and unlawful retaliation cost taxpayers $3 million.
Froehlich also hired as a $110,000 undersheriff a former bartender who had no law enforcement experience but plenty of political connections. Mitchell said hiring Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, who is the local political boss in Union Township, “is the epitome of polluting police work with politics.”
Mitchell is leading a slate of candidates running on the Democrats for Change ticket, but he declined to announce who would be joining his effort.
There are expected to be a number of contentious local races this year in Elizabeth, Roselle, Rahway and Plainfield.
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