Age Not an Issue in Ocean County Sheriff Election as Polhemus Wins
Toms River–Sheriff William Polhemus will get to keep his job, thanks to Ocean County voters. In a race were attention seemed to be focused mostly on the age of the 84 year old sheriff from Seaside Heights, voters decided it was not an issue.
Throughout the campaign, local media and supporters of Polhemus’ opponents said he was too old to keep his doing his job. It was a claim not taken lightly by Polhemus and one he said held no bearing in a pre-election interview with Toms River Magazine. “My opponents say I’m too old, but they don’t say anything about Lautenberg. I’ve been doing this a very long time and proud of the accomplishments we made during that time,” he said. “This is a an administrative position, almost like a CEO of a company, but I don’t think they know that, I don’t think they understand fully what the position is.”
Polhemus was referring to Lautenberg, the 88 year old Democrat Senator of New Jersey. He also questioned why his opponents weren’t concerned about their own party member’s age who governs a far greater region and scope than Polhemus.
Another claim launched by opponents and dismissed by Polhemus was that the Sheriff’s Department should be doing more police work. ”It’s another example of them not knowing the job. Our department helps local police departments in everything from investigations to providing officers to help out in shore towns during the summer,” he said. “Whenever we’re asked to provide assistance, we do that already.”
One of the challenges Polhemus faces is replacing the recent exodus caused by the state’s pension reform plans, another topic during the campaign. ”We have 9 people in the police academy right now and have plans for 9 next year and 9 the next year after,” he said. “We lost a lot of good people because the government couldn’t guarantee their retirement if they stayed.”
Polhemus said he was proud of his department and the programs they offer beyond the basic law enforcement duties, including the Child Identification Program, DARE, gun safety programs, senior safety programs, missing persons unit and the Ocean County Police Academy were some he mentioned.
Some of the accomplishments in the department under Polhemus include a county K-9 team and one of the region’s top Criminal Investigation Units.
Polhemus also had the support of those who work for him, including Under-Sheriff William Sommeling who praised Polhemus’ financial management over the years.
“In the last 10 or 12 years, the sheriff has returned to the county government, about 12 million dollars. He has never overspent his budget. Like any other law enforcement agency, we have unions and yes, people do work overtime and for 27 years, he’s maintained a frugal budget,” said Sommeling, “He spends what he has to and that is all.”
Polhemus won last week’s election, receiving 56% of votes compared to 41% by his opponent Bob Armstrong. John McMenamin received 2.75% of the vote.