Sher­iff wins the first round, beat­ing Phe­lan in pri­mary

In­cum­bent Cameron scores 4-to-1 tally over his pri­mary op­po­nent

The Enterprise - - News - By JOHN WHAR­TON jwhar­ton@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JohnEn­tNews

St. Mary’s sher­iff Tim Cameron’s re­turn to con­tested po­lit­i­cal elec­tions, af­ter twice fac­ing no op­po­nent, scored an easy first-round win Tues­day by a 4-to-1 mar­gin over a chal­lenger in the Repub­li­can pri­mary.

“I’m very pleased,” Cameron said while seated among se­nior deputies and other sup­port­ers that night at the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice lodge in Great Mills. Fac­ing an op­po­nent “en­ables you to get out and talk to peo­ple, which I do ev­ery day as part of the job,” the sher­iff said, and as a can­di­date, “you con­nect with as many peo­ple as you can, in a dif­fer­ent way.”

Un­of­fi­cial re­sults gave Cameron 4,620 votes, amount­ing to 79.9 per­cent of the tally, com­pared to 1,161 votes, or 20.1 per­cent, for Tom Phe­lan, a re­tired Navy cap­tain.

Phe­lan said Wed­nes­day morn­ing that he sent Cameron a note via Face­book, to con­grat­u­late the in­cum­bent on his vic­tory, “and wished him the best of luck.”

Cameron, 59, now faces a show­down in Novem­ber’s gen­eral elec­tion with re­tired sher­iff’s Lt. Ted Bel­leav­oine, the un­op­posed lone can­di­date for the job in this week’s Demo­cratic pri­mary. Bel­leav­oine re­ceived 3,447 votes in his party’s pri­mary, ac­cord­ing to the un­of­fi­cial re­sults that do not in­clude ab­sen­tee or pro­vi­sional bal­lots.

Cameron de­feated an in­cum­bent sher­iff in 2006 and faced no op­po­nent in the suc­ceed­ing two elec­tions.

Phe­lan, 61, filed his can­di­dacy for the county’s top law en­force­ment post a year ago, of­fer­ing from the onset “a fresh per­spec­tive and fresh lead­er­ship” and cit­ing his pre­vi­ous over­sight of four mil­i­tary com­mands.

In Jan­uary, the in­cum­bent sher­iff fol­lowed through on his timetable for seek­ing an­other four years in of­fice, and fo­cused his re­marks at that time on the “amaz­ing work” of his deputies, cor- rec­tional of­fi­cers and civil­ian staff, and his goals of con­tin­u­ing a part­nered ap­proach to the opi­oid over­dose cri­sis and lo­cally ad­dress­ing the na­tion­wide dif­fi­culty in the “re­cruit­ing and re­ten­tion” of good law of­fi­cers.

Cameron and Phe­lan took part in a can­di­dates fo­rum last month in Lex­ing­ton Park, where the in­cum­bent re­it­er­ated his con­tin­u­ing ef­forts to de­velop a “pre­mier law en­force­ment agency,” and his op­po­nent in the pri­mary em­pha­sized a team ap­proach to pub­lic safety.

Cam­paign fundrais­ing and spend­ing by the two can­di­dates’ cam­paigns in­cluded re­ports filed ear­lier this month that Cameron’s cam­paign re­cently added $3,245 to a prior bal­ance of $3,142, which dated back to a fi­nance state­ment from more than three years ago. Cameron said he did not seek cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions dur­ing the two pre­vi­ous elec­tion cy­cles. Phe­lan at one point re­ported a cam­paign bal­ance of $5,284.

On Wed­nes­day, Phe­lan said of the pri­mary con­test’s civil tone, “that was my in­tent going in, to stay pos­i­tive” and fo­cus on his ex­pe­ri­ence and ideas.

“I’d hoped it would be a lit­tle closer [re­sult], but the vot­ers have spo­ken,” Phe­lan added. “I got some good name recog­ni­tion out there. There are po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties four years from now. That re­mains un­de­cided.”

Bel­leav­oine, 50, en­tered the con­test last Oc­to­ber, say­ing “there’s an en­tire work­force that re­mains un­rep­re­sented” and is­su­ing a state­ment that he would “strive to im­prove the morale of the sher­iff’s of­fice.” He re­tired from the sher­iff’s of­fice in 2015, and served as chair­man of the county’s al­co­hol bev­er­age board from June 2016 un­til he stepped down from that po­si­tion fol­low­ing the fil­ing of his can­di­dacy. He cur­rently works as a sher­iff’s deputy in Calvert County.

STAFF PHOTO BY JOHN WHAR­TON

St. Mary’s Sher­iff Tim Cameron, left, chats with re­tired Mary­land State Po­lice Lt. Michael Thomp­son at the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice lodge in Great Mills while await­ing elec­tion re­sults Tues­day night.

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