It’s been quite the year for Charmaine McGuffey, but the woman poised to be Ohio’s first lesbian sheriff is not backing down. She's only getting stronger.
The former Ohio deputy sheriff made headlines earlier this year when she announced her campaign. Not only will she make queer history in her state if she wins, but her victory against Sheriff Jim Neil in the Democratic primary poses as a bit of justice given what McGuffey says happened during her time on the force.
Neil is McGuffey’s former boss who allegedly fired her from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office in 2016 because she was gay. Instead of becoming a victim to the situation, decided to change the system. Cut to McGuffey running against Neil in this year's Democratic primary and winning an astounding 70 percent of the vote!
Not only did she win by a landslide, but the hurdles she faced against disgusting smear tactics cannot be understated.
At the time she was fired, Neil told Cincinnati Enquirer that it was due to her creating a hostile work environment for employees — despite the fact that the year before she was named local and regional Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, and the next year was named Public Citizen of the Year by the Ohio House of Representatives.
McGuffey, a 33-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, ended up filing a lawsuit in response to the remarks and claimed she was fired as a form of retaliation for speaking out against the office’s alleged toxic male culture. At one point, McGuffey said that during her time of employment one staff member waved a Trump hat in her face in a staff meeting while everyone burst out laughing, leaving her feel singled out and alone.
Well, McGuffey is having the last laugh. The candidate has been endorsed by The Victory Fund as well as Democracy for America, the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, the Tristate Asian American Action Fund, and many more.
In a new capaign video, McGuffey calls out her Republican opponent, Bruce Hoffbauer, for being unfit for the job due to his history of excessive force as well as his shooting and killing of an unarmed Black man. She also notes that he has a history of targeting and terrorizing communities of color.
“From notes on the bathroom door to abuse at the very top, I’ve taken on bullies like him my entire career,” she says of Hoffbauer. “I stood up to homophobia and sexism, I’ve torn down barriers that were designed to keep people like me from ever getting a fair shot.”
In the video, during which she speaks unapologetically about being a lesbian and her experience on the job fighting toxic masculinity, she also touches on how she handled working under Neil and men like him.
“[Neil’s] way [of law enforcement was] excessive force, harassment, and zero accountability,” she says in the video. “When I stood up I was told to go with the flow. I refused to stand by silently and ultimately, it cost me my job.”
“I’m running for sheriff because I know we can do better,” she said. “In my 33 years as a police officer, I’ve seen justice and I’ve seen injustice. But I also know what it feels like to be targeted for who I am and not for something I’ve done. There are systemic issues that we can no longer ignore.”
She concluded, “The courage to do what’s right and just, no matter how difficult it may be, that’s what history is calling us to do, and that’s the kind of sheriff I’ll be.”
Learn more about McGuffey and how you can donate to the campaign at McGuffeyForSheriff.com.