Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Montco Dems Respond to Sheriff Appointment

from the inbox:

Montgomery County Democratic Chairman Marcel Groen today charged Gov. Tom Corbett “with interfering in the political process in Montgomery County” and said Corbett’s nomination of Eileen Behr to fill the vacancy in the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office was “disappointing.”

Behr is the former chief of police in Whitemarsh Township, and is the endorsed Republican candidate for sheriff in this year’s election cycle. Robert Durante, a veteran of the sheriff’s department, is also seeking the GOP nomination. The endorsed Democratic candidate is William A. Holt Jr., who has 42 years of service with the Abington Township police department. The position of sheriff has been vacant since Sheriff John Durante died in February, 2010. Corbett’s nomination of Behr needs Pennsylvania Senate confirmation.

“Sheriff Durante sadly passed away more than a year ago,” Groen said, “and, by all accounts, the sheriff’s office has been managed competently by the first deputy. Now, as the primary election approaches, Gov. Corbett inserts himself not just into the general election, but the Republican primary as well.

“This is simply not the way these types of things are routinely handled, and it shows a lack of respect for the process and for the voters of Montgomery County,” Groen said. Groen also pointed to the fact that news releases from the Governor’s office and the Montgomery County Republican Committee were received by reporters nearly simultaneously as further evidence of the political nature of the move.

Holt said he also was disappointed in the Governor’s action. “I had great respect for Sheriff Durante, and from what I knew of him, I doubt that he would have enjoyed seeing his office being used in a political gambit,” Holt said.

Holt said he looked forward to matching his qualifications against whoever emerges as the GOP nominee, and letting “the voters of Montgomery County decide on their sheriff without the help of the Governor.”

Holt, retired from the Abington Police Department after 42 years of service. He has over 20 years of administrative law enforcement experience. He has extensive knowledge of hostage negotiation, crime and death scene investigation, incident command, and is certified to teach in the Municipal Police Officer Training Commission (MPOTC). Holt is the recipient of several awards and recognitions including induction into the Abington Senior. High School Hall of Fame and the Police Officers International Hall of Fame. Will's extensive police experience has been recognized with Police Officer of the Year awards from the Region 13 Pennsylvania State Detectives Association and the Lower Optimist Club of Montgomery County. He is a graduate of Abington Senior High and a Vietnam veteran.

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