Charmaine McGuffey has broken through the glass ceiling doubly. McGuffey became the first female as well as the first openly LGBTQ sheriff for Hamilton County, Ohio on Election Day. Running as the Democratic candidate against her former boss, Bruce Hoffbauer, in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department, McGuffey won the election by almost 18,000 votes.
After serving in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department for 33 years and reaching the rank of major, McGuffey served as the commander of Jail and Court Services for Hamilton County. She left the sheriff’s department in 2017 after being demoted to a civilian position due to an internal investigation within the department, which claimed she created an antagonistic work environment for her subordinates. McGuffey argued that officers were critical of her leadership because of her gender and sexuality. Following her departure, McGuffey filed a wrongful termination lawsuit that has advanced to trial.
Following her victory on Wednesday, McGuffey explained in remarks:
“This is the honor of a lifetime, a dream job for me. When I was 14, a little girl, I was told no way, you can never even be a police officer because you’re a girl, you’re a woman, and look where we stand today.
“I’ve been LGBT all my life and I never ever, because of my orientation, thought I’d be standing here as sheriff. There were many barriers. But here’s what I had going in my favor, all the other LGBTQ people who came before me, all those men and women who put their lives on the line so that I could walk that path.”
McGuffey’s progressive platform for her as sheriff focused on reforming the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department. In an interview with WVXU, McGuffey talked about a reduced emphasis on incarceration and a larger role for social workers in law enforcement.
“A majority of the runs we respond to are social ills – addiction, mental health crises, people struggling with day-to-day stuff. If we can direct people to the right place to get help rather than incarcerate them, that’s what we want to do.”