Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer is running for the 40th Ohio House seat now held by term-limited state Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton, but plans to remain sheriff throughout the 2018 campaign.
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger introduced and endorsed Plummer at a Dayton Country Club press conference Friday morning, saying the Republican sheriff’s experience gives him valuable insight on the opioid crisis.
“I can’t remember the last time we had a sheriff coming to the general assembly,” said Rosenberger, R-Clarksville.
Plummer’s term ends in December 2020 and the Montgomery County Republican Party Central Committee would select his successor if Plummer wins the statehouse seat. Plummer said if he wins he wants Chief Deputy Rob Streck to take over as sheriff.
“I’d be glad and proud to be the sheriff of Montgomery County,” Streck said in an interview after the press conference.
At this point Plummer is the only declared Republican candidate for the 40th district seat, which includes Huber Heights, Englewood, Riverside, Butler Twp. Clay Twp. and parts of Dayton and Clayton.
Former Dayton School Board member Adil Baguirov had previously announced he was running as a Republican for the seat but now says he will not.
“I’ve met with Sheriff Plummer and decided to endorse him. So I’m not going to run for this position,” said Baguirov.
Mark Owens, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, said Don Shaffer of Montgomery County has taken out petitions to run for Henne’s seat. Shaffer could not be reached for comment.
Plummer is also chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party and plans to remain in that job.
He said his focus in the Statehouse would be battling the opioid crisis and trying to stop the unfunded mandates from the state that make it difficult for counties to provide services.
Plummer, who as sheriff runs the county jail, has been faced with multiple lawsuits over allegations of mistreatment of prisoners. Asked about that, Plummer said, “people make mistakes. None of us are perfect.”
He said he has “an outdated jail that’s overcrowded, 30 percent of the people are suffering from mental illnesses, 50 percent of the people are on drugs” and he has too few staff to manage the jail. He said it is more evidence of the need for better funding for law enforcement.
Plummer, 53, has been sheriff since he was appointed in to take over for former Sheriff Dave Vore, who retired in July 2008. Plummer was elected that November and has served ever since.
He began his career as a corrections officer in the jail 30 years ago and rose through the ranks to become Vore’s chief deputy.
“I love my job. I have the best job in the world,” Plummer said. “(But) after 30 years it can take a toll on you.”
Rosenberger said the 40th District is one of more than 20 seats he’s recruiting candidates to fill as term limits take out a relatively large number of house members in 2018.
“Yes, it’s going to be a pretty large class of a turnover for the Ohio House,” Rosenberger said. “I’m trying to go out and support good candidates that I think will bring the right kind of quality of experience to the general assembly.”
Other stories by Lynn Hulsey