Four Democrats campaign for County Sheriff in upcoming primary election
By Richard Gaw
In preparation for the May 21 primary election, four Democrats are vying for the right to oppose Republican Jim Fitzgerald in November, in the race to occupy the Chester County Sheriff seat currently held by Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh, who will be leaving the post she's had since 2000 in early 2020.
The candidates include Dan Boyle, Joe Lunsford, Fredda Maddox and Michael Sarro.
Welsh declared last November that she was not going to be seeking a sixth term in office. She became the first female sheriff elected in Chester County and has been the longest-serving sheriff in county history. A Pennsbury Township resident, Welsh was the first woman to be elected president of a graduating class at the National Sheriffs Institute, and also became the first female president of the Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association in 2009.
In 2011, Welsh was elected in 2011 to the board of the National Sheriffs Association, which oversees more than 3,000 sheriffs across the nation. She currently serves on the NSA’s executive committee as third vice president, the first woman ever to hold that post. She is co-chair of the National Coalition on Violence Against Animals (NCOVAA) and a board member of the National Flag Foundation.
Locally, Welsh is a member of the Rotary Club of West Chester and serves as vice president of the Chester County Hero Fund. She sits on the board of the Chester County Family Academy and the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School. In 1997, she was named one of the Top 50 Women in Business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
If elected this November, Fitzgerald intends to apply his many years of education, training, and law enforcement experience to the office of County Sheriff, which include serving as Special Agent of the FBI for over 26 years. A graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Fitzgerald attended UNC on an NROTC scholarship, earned a Master’s degree in Management from Troy State University. He served on active duty in the U.S. Marines for 10 years, where he was involved in integrated tactical operation of Marine assets, complex counter-terrorism investigations, sensitive undercover operations and coordination of multi-jurisdictional law enforcement activities.
Fitzgerald and his wife are the parents of for children, all of whom graduated from West Chester Area schools. For many years, he supported his children during their involvement in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and served for 15 years as a coach, age commissioner, and referee with the West Chester United Soccer Club.
Democratic Candidates for Chester County Sheriff
Bio: A graduate of Widener and Villanova law schools, Boyle has been an attorney for 20 years and a business consultant for 10, and has also worked as a laborer and business operations manager. A father to a four-year-old son, he volunteers hundreds of hours per year for nonprofit organizations.
Platform: Boyle wants to create fiscal responsibility by eliminating needless spending; provide complete transparency will be offered through monthly town hall meetings; review policies and procedures to ensure the objectives of the office, its employees, the taxpayers and residents receive the best possible service; to create a program to provide a countywide compassionate plan ensuring seniors can age in place and reduce homelessness; enact criminal justice reform; enhance public safety by ensuring that all officers are fully qualified and trained to keep our County safe; and provide increased school safety for children.
Bio: A longtime Chester County employee, Lunsford started as a corrections officer in 1985 before being promoted to a sergeant under Sheriff Welsh. He has supervised all proceedings of the Court of Common Pleas for over 25 years, working with attorneys, the public, the deputies, the judges, and their staff. During his career, Lunsford has received numerous certifications, as well as active shooter training, police officer supervisor training, United States Marshall Judicial Security training, and many other forms of training. He has received commendations for apprehending one of Chester County’s Most Wanted and apprehending many robbery suspects. He and Wendy, his wife of 32 years, have one son and two grandchildren.
Platform: Lunsford wants to seek financial transparency and use his experience in law enforcement to restore “the integrity of the office.”
Bio: A practicing attorney for the past 20 years, Maddox was one of the first women to serve as a Pennsylvania State Trooper in Chester County, and was a narcotics agent for the Bureau of Narcotics in the Pa. Office of the Attorney General, where she also served in the Bureau of Criminal Investigations as a Special Agent.
As a special agent in the PA Office of the Attorney General, she exposed illegal billing practices in health care and arrested a high-ranking correctional officer involved in a prison scam. As a practicing attorney, she represents children who were sexually abused and seeks Protection from Abuse orders for victims of domestic violence.
Platform: Maddox wants to continue to educate and build bridges among law enforcement and community members regardless of color, gender, religion and other differences; protect the community and citizen rights; work as an advocate for all citizens, especially those who lack access, resources, and opportunity; protect the rights of survivors of domestic violence and children's rights; and partner with other law enforcement agencies in the country and region.
Bio: Sarro served in the U.S. Military for nine years, and is now a paramedic and part-time police officer, whose public service also includes nearly four years in the Sheriff’s office. He plans to bring a fresh and energetic perspective to the campaign, utilizing the determination he has needed to overcome adversity throughout his adult life. As a Purple Heart recipient who has fought his injuries and overcome them, Mike Sarro is ready to provide a fresh approach and new leadership in Chester County. Mike is a father to three great kids and has been married to his wonderful wife for 14 years. He coaches Little League baseball in West Bradford in his free time.
Platform: Sarro understands what is needed to move the Sheriff’s Department forward and restore confidence in the office. Transparency and accountability are his key priorities.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.