Republican Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander is crossing party lines to back the Democratic candidate for sheriff this fall.
Alexander, who opted not to seek a fourth term, has decided to “unofficially” endorse Steve Barry, a retired sheriff’s captain, over Republican Randy Rivers, commander of the University of Akron police academy and a retired Cuyahoga Falls police captain.
The endorsement is unofficial, Alexander said, because he cannot formally endorse in political races or risk the sheriff’s office losing some federal funding.
“It’s no secret,” Alexander said Tuesday. “Everybody knows that Steve’s a friend and he has asked for my help, and I’ve given him help. ... I’ve had high regard for his work and I respect him as a person and a police officer.”
He added that he doesn’t know Rivers well and that Rivers, who worked for Cuyahoga Falls police for 30 years, hasn’t asked for his assistance.
Alexander said he has known Barry for decades, and they worked together for 10 years at the sheriff’s office.
Barry welcomed the help.
“I think it’s due to the working relationship we had,” he said. “I would like to think that he feels due to my experience that I’m the more qualified candidate.”
Rivers said the decision isn’t surprising.
“I guess lines can ebb and flow as they wish,” he said. “What that does is kind of adds credence to my platform. I’m running for the position of sheriff to challenge, in a healthy way, the status quo. ... It’s to do police work. To do good, simple, honest police work.”
Alexander’s decision shouldn’t be shocking to anyone who has followed his career.
Last fall, he riled the Republican Party by deciding two weeks before the filing deadline not to run again. At the time, he said he would throw his support behind Democrat Garry Moneypenny, a friend and former assistant sheriff.
Moneypenny then opted not to seek the office.
Alexander also declined to step down early — a move common for departing politicians so the party’s designated candidate can earn extra name recognition and get a jump on his or her opponent.
Alexander said he remains a Republican, noting that he also has lent his support to Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty in her race against Common Pleas Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer for probate judge Nov. 6.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com.