Charmaine McGuffy on historic sheriff win: 'I was told I could never be a police officer'

County's first woman, lesbian sheriff
Posted at 12:01 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 19:54:42-05

CINCINNATI — Charmaine McGuffy stands to become Hamilton County's next sheriff, with unofficial results indicating a four-point margin of victory.

The Democrat, who first bested incumbent Jim Neil in the March primary election, called her win "historic" during an address Wednesday morning. Her presumed defeat of Republican challenger Bruce Hoffbauer will make her the county's first female sheriff and first lesbian sheriff.

"When I was 14 and a little girl, I was told, 'No way. You can never even be a police officer because you’re a girl, because you’re a woman.' And look where we stand today," she told supporters Wednesday morning. "I say to every little girl out there, when you hear the word 'No,' you know that means 'Go.' Go and get your dreams."

She went on to address her open status as a member of the LGBTQ community.

"I’ve never ever, because of my orientation, thought I would be standing here as the sheriff of Hamilton County," she said. “Being an LGBTQ member of that big family means so much to me. I’ve been LGBTQ all my life."

Unofficial tallies indicate McGuffey earned approximately 52% of the vote, while Hoffbauer took 48%. County election officials told WCPO Wednesday morning they have roughly 13,000 provisional ballots still to count along with another 2,000 mail-in ballots, but they do not believe those votes should impact any projected results.

McGuffey, a retired major and former jail commander, spent her 33-year career in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, chiefly within the realm of the Justice Center, the third-largest jail in the state of Ohio. During a year that saw historic levels of social unrest and calls for police reform, McGuffey ran her campaign on the promise to bring change to the Sheriff's Office and its detention center.

"My biggest challenges moving forward are to bring criminal justice reform in an actionable way to this county," she said Wednesday. "Not just talk about it, not just use phrase words, but actually show the people that supported me that we can move further in the criminal justice system than we ever have before."

Commanding a staff of 850 employees, the sheriff oversees the Hamilton County Justice Center, security at the Hamilton County Courthouse and deputies on patrol.