Charmaine McGuffey, running for sheriff of Hamilton County, Ohio, has released a campaign ad that focuses on the harassment she’s faced as a woman and a lesbian in law enforcement and highlights her actions against police misconduct.
“I wasn’t just a woman working in law enforcement. I was a gay woman,” McGuffey, a Hamilton County officer from 1983 to 2017, says in the video. “That made me a target. A threat.”
But she notes that she’s overcome seemingly impossible odds her whole life, becoming the first and only woman ever to achieve the rank of major in the department and taking the county jail from a ranking of worst in the state to the best. Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, is the third-most populous county in Ohio.
She says that she sought to focus on rehabilitation at the jail and stood against the use of excessive force. That and her lesbian identity, McGuffey says, resulted in her firing by Sheriff Jim Neil. She has sued over the firing, and she ran against Neil in the Democratic primary in April, winning with nearly 70 percent of the vote. Her suit is scheduled to go to trial in December, and in the November election, she faces Republican Bruce Hoffbauer, a Cincinnati police lieutenant, who she says has a history of brutality, especially against communities of color. If she wins, she would be one of very few lesbian sheriffs ever elected in the U.S.
She promises to fight systemic racism and other forms of bigotry. “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,” she says.
Watch below, and read The Advocate’s interview with McGuffey here.