Deputy Wins Against Incumbent To Become County's First Female LGBTQ Sheriff

by Christina Marfice
Charmaine Mcguffey/Twitter

Charmaine McGuffey was fired by her boss, the Hamilton County Sheriff, for being an out lesbian. So she ran against him — and won

The nation is still waiting for final results from a handful of battleground states that will determine who won the presidential election. But amid all that anxiety and uncertainty, it’s important to recognize the smaller wins that have been coming in from all corners of the U.S. For example, Delaware elected the nation’s first openly transgender state senator. The four OG members of The Squad all won reelection, and added new progressive wins to their ranks. And a woman who claims she was fired by her boss, the Hamilton County Sheriff, for her sexual orientation ran against him — and won.

Charmaine McGuffey worked for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office for 33 years. She was eventually named Major in Command of jail and court services, making her the highest-ranking woman in the department. But she said that Jim Neil, a far-right, Trump supporting Democrat who held the top job before her, fired her after a disagreement.

“The current sheriff and I got into a pretty serious disagreement about the practice of him not holding officers accountable for use of force and harassment of women, female officers, and female inmates,” McGuffey told LGBTQ Nation when she first announced her plans to run. “He fired me. So after about a year or so of contemplating, I decided I can do a better job than him.”

Clearly, voters agreed. McGuffey easily won the primary against him, netting 70 percent of the total vote. She then went on to defeat her Republican challenger, Bruce Hoffbauer, in the general election this week. Now, she’s going to be the Hamilton County Sheriff.

“[My election] would mean that our country is moving forward,” McGuffey told reporters before the election. “That we really have moved away from the 1950s model of law enforcement, where not just women are embraced in the law enforcement world, but also LGBTQ members of the community can wear a uniform and be quite successful.”

McGuffey had support from some major players in the Democratic party in her bid to become Sheriff. She was endorsed by Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and former Cincinnati Mayor Roxanne Qualls. She was also named the 2020 Up & Coming Politician at the LGBTQ Nation Heroes Awards.

On election day, McGuffey traveled her county to greet voters. She also proudly announced that she had cast her vote for president.

This is the kind of change law enforcement needs in the U.S., and we hope McGuffey’s win encourages other progressive candidates to take on discrimination, intimidation, harassment, use of force, and all the other systemic injustices we need to tear down.