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Democratic OC Sheriff Candidate Wants To End "Ol Boys Club"

A late entry joins the running in Ocean County Sheriff’s Race. Democrat Bob Armstrong submits his name to run against Republican incumbent Bill Polhemus.

Campaign Manager Paul Brush (L) and Bob Armstrong Announce Armstrong's Candidacy Outside Ocean County Courthouse
Campaign Manager Paul Brush (L) and Bob Armstrong Announce Armstrong's Candidacy Outside Ocean County Courthouse (Ilya Hemlin Townsquare Media NJ)

Armstrong made his announcement in front of the Ocean County Courthouse on Monday, the official deadline for filing a petition with the Ocean County Board of Elections. Armstrong was joined by his campaign manager, former Toms River mayor Paul Brush, announcement his intention to challenge the current sheriff who has already served 27 years and nine terms in office.

In his speech introducing himself, Armstrong recounted his background in law enforcement on the local, state, and federal level including his 32 years military career in the US Army Intelligence Corps and as a a Special Agent in Charge at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.. He served as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a Detective with State division of Criminal justice, and as a Special Agent and Forensic Accountant with the NJ State Commission of Investigation, as well as serving as the Deputy Director of Homeland Security at the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office.

Armstrong says he wants to consolidate the Department of Corrections should be put under the direction of the Sheriff. He cites a decision by the Board of Freeholders 25 years ago which appointed a jail warden. He says Warden Theodore Hutler, who was one of Polhemus’s Undersheriff’s has been in the position for the entire 25 years.

“You can’t make this stuff up. Hutler has a better deal than Polhemus, he doesn’t even have to run for office. How about that for a good ole’ boy patronage gig?” Said Armstrong.

He noted combining the DOC with the Sheriff’s office will also be a savings to taxpayers. Noting in 2011 the Sheriff’s Office and Jail spent over 4 million dollars in overtime, compared to the County Prosecutor’s Office which spent only $400,000.

Lt. Colonel George “Bob” Armstrong, USAF
Lt. Colonel George “Bob” Armstrong, USAF (Democratic Club of LBI)

Armstrong notes that Monmouth County is an excellent “benchmark” in how a consolidated system could work.

In his speech, Armstrong spoke about the need to change the culture under the current department.  He notes over half of officers within the Sheriff’s  Office make over $100,000 and have the relatively low risk job of guarding court entrance and exits and serving papers.

He says it’s not a prudent use of resources when you consider there are local police officers making significantly less money and being asked perform more dangerous duties. He suggests utilizing the officers as “force multiplies” to assist many of the understaffed local departments.

“Many of whom are experiencing gang/drug related crime in their communities. “Notes Armstrong.

Armstrong adds that outside of the Prosecutor’s Office, Sheriff’s Office officers are the only ones with full Law Enforcement Authority throughout Ocean County.

The Democrat’s opponent Bill Polhemus has been criticized for his almost three decade tenure and age, however Armstrong says his issue rests with the Republican’s lengthy stay in office not his age.

“Twenty seven years in office that says it all. If he was forty or fifty years old I would say twenty seven years is too much.”

In his speech he has accused Polhemus of staying in his position for posterity sake.  Claiming that Polhemus’ only admitted goal in the 2012 campaign is to be remembered as a sheriff who served for 30 years.  He there is a general attitude of contentment with the status quo.

“I think they’ve gotten into a rut and nothing changes and everybody including the sheriff’s officers are pretty happy with the situation as it is.”

Armstrong understands that his position as a Democrat in a primarily Republican County will make things difficult, however he believes more than a party people are ready for a fresh start.

“I’m a conservative Democrat, actually I switched parties almost four years ago because of the ‘ol boys club’.”

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