Facebook | Charmaine McGuffey For Sheriff

Lesbian Officer Fired By Sheriff Runs For His Office And Wins In A Landslide

Hamilton County, Ohio may get its first openly gay sheriff in November after an acrimonious primary season saw the incumbent cast aside by the Democratic party faithful in favor of a candidate he had fired in 2017.

Jim Neil turned heads in the Democratic party back in 2012 when he became the first Democrat-elected sheriff in Hamilton County in 35 years.

Facebook | Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, Anderson Twp. District 5

He won re-election in 2016, too, but four years later he's on the outside looking in. As WXVU reported, the trouble for Neil started back in 2016 as well, and it all added up to an absolute trouncing at the polls.

Neil and his challenger, Charmaine McGuffey, have a long history.

They attended the same high school and college, and worked in the same sheriff's office. Neil also made McGuffey the first female major in the sheriff's office, and made her the head of the county's jail and court services.

Things started to go sour for Neil following an appearance onstage, in uniform, at a Donald Trump rally in 2016.

Local Democratic party members criticized the sheriff for the appearance alongside Trump, and Neil issued an apology the next day, citing his lack of political acumen.

"I've been a police officer since 1981," he said at the time, "was elected as sheriff in 2012. I'm not comfortable in the skin of a politician. What you get with Jim Neil is what you get. I'm a public servant. Public safety is my priority."

However, what would ultimately be Neil's undoing was McGuffey.

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In 2017, Neil and McGuffey's long-lasting professional relationship was put to the test when a formal complaint, including an internal affairs investigation, landed on Neil's desk. As WKRC reported, the complaint alleged McGuffey had created a hostile work environment, and it contained corroborations from 32 deputies.

Neil asked McGuffey to take a demotion, but she refused, and Neil fired her.

McGuffey has a different side of the story.

Facebook | Charmaine McGuffey For Sheriff

She maintains that she became a liability after raising concerns about an abuse of force investigation, and that she was fired because she's a lesbian. In fact, she filed a federal lawsuit claiming just that, and followed that up by filing the paperwork to run against Neil in the election.

Neil has denied firing her over her sexual orientation.

McGuffey also denied the allegations against her in the complaint.

"I did not bully people. I was the boss. And as the boss, you have to speak the truth and you have to say it the way it is," she said, according to WLWT.

While that lawsuit is still pending, the results of the election are not.

Democratic voters in Hamilton County made it known who they side with, and they did it in dramatic fashion, handing McGuffey a landslide victory, 69% to 30%.

"I am gratified by the overwhelming response from democratic voters that indicate they want the same criminal justice reform," McGuffey said of her primary victory, "I look forward to being elected the next Sheriff of Hamilton County and am eager and ready to focus our attention on the November general election."

McGuffey will face Republican Bruce Hoffbauer in November.