LINDEN — Union County Police Lt. Richard Puschel has joined the Democrats For Change slate in the upcoming primary election, raising the potential that the contest for sheriff will be the most closely watched race on the June ballot.
Incumbent Sheriff Ralph Froehlich has held the office for 36 years and he narrowly escaped defeat in his last primary, which was contested by Essex County Jail guard Charles Mitchell, a perennial candidate.
While effusive in his praise for the incumbent’s job performance, Puschel says most voters believe it is time for a change and he has the best qualifications for the job.
Puschel heads the county’s bomb squad and a number of other units that have given him experience directing law enforcement operations and supervising police personnel.
“Ralph Froehlich’s retirement makes this the year when Union County will choose a new Sheriff and the only other candidate is a guard at the Essex County Jail,” said Puschel. “Maybe he is unaware, but the Union County Sheriff has not had responsibility for our jail since 1983 and the person to lead this office should have broader experience.”
“I know Union County, I have led subordinates in dangerous situations and I have the administrative skills to be an effective Sheriff for keeping Union County safe,” said Puschel.
Puschel said the unqualified Mitchell got less than ten percent of the vote against Froehlich when he ran in 2007 but three years ago, he nearly scored an upset.
“This job is too important to leave to someone who does not know what he’s doing,” said Puschel. “The worst thing that could happen is choosing a replacement who would destroy everything Sheriff Froehlich built.”
Former Glen Ridge Mayor Carl Bergmanson is the candidate for Governor who is leading the Democrats For Change slate.
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