Ingham County Sheriff Candidates Sound Off

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Take a peak inside Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth's house, and it's easy to see he's not just a proud grandfather, he's proud of his job and takes it seriously.

Plaques, custom-made paintings, and framed photos all with a sheriff theme cover every available surface.

"I've been sheriff for the last 24 years," Wriggelsworth said. "I enjoy my job. I think I've done a good, credible job, and I want another four years, which is why I'm running."

His opponent, Clyde Smith, thinks it's time for a change.

"I don't believe this should be about whether you're a Democrat or Republican," Smith said. "We need to have it where you pick the best person that's going to do the best job for the public."

Smith worked for the Lansing Police Department for 25 years. He took two months off from his current position as a Leslie police office to campaign after he said several townships asked him to run for position.

"I care about what happens to people, and that's the reason why I've been doing this for so long," Smith said. "Public safety, not political agenda."

Wriggelsworth worries Smith's background doesn't qualify him for the position.

"Where's the beef? He doesn't tell us anything about how he's going to make the department more efficient, for example," Wriggelsworth said. "We have never finished our year over budget. It just doesn't work that way."

Wriggelsworth received nearly $1 million in grants last year for a county-wide booking system and soon-to-be installed Skype visitation program. Smith said he was elected, he would make community police officers a priority.

"They're going know a phone number where they can leave messages. They're going have your email address. Everything," Smith said. "That's how it works. That's the effective way of getting police work done."

Smith also said he would cut upper command positions in order to higher more deputies.

Wriggelsworth noted the sheriff doesn't have the authority to do that.

"The commissioners are the ones that allocate the deputies, not the sheriff," Wriggelsworth said.

Smith said he plans to keep campaigning.

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