Votes still being counted in controversial Franklin County sheriff’s race

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 5:57 PM EST
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SAINT ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - The votes are still being counted in the Franklin County Sheriff’s race, a contest where the only candidate on the ballot faces charges of simple assault for kicking a person in police custody.

Town clerks around Franklin County were hard at work Wednesday after an unprecedented write-in campaign for Franklin County Sheriff, after the only candidate on the ballot -- John Grismore -- was charged with simple assault.

Election officials in St. Albans say they can’t ever remember so many write-in votes in an election. Just in the city they have to go through around 970 by hand.

The write-in campaign by Franklin County Sheriff’s Lt. Mark Lauer comes after former Capt. John Grismore was caught on video surveillance kicking a handcuffed man in custody in August. The incident led to simple assault charges. Grismore, who has pleaded not guilty, was the only candidate on the ballot for sheriff.

“I’m certainly willing to be patient and prove to them day-to-day that, remind them of the person I really am and the person I’ve demonstrated to be for the 20-plus years I’ve been a police officer in Franklin County,” Grismore said Tuesday. He says he is grateful for the thousands that supported him and hope the public can see the challenges and demands of modern law enforcement.

He also is committed to proving that he is innocent of simple assault and that the incident was taken out of context.

The Vt. Secretary of State’s website Wednesday was having technical problems with the unofficial ballot count in the race. Grismore believes he won. “That’s something that I’ve learned -- is that you’re always going to have folks that don’t agree with what you do. And certainly being a police officer, you are surrounded with people who don’t agree with what you do, and you develop a pretty thick skin for that. But in the role of sheriff -- this is a different opportunity to change minds and hearts and I look forward to that,” Grismore said.

Meanwhile, Mark Lauer is in a holding pattern and anxiously awaits a definitive result. He says he likes the office and the people he works with and wants to carry on the legacy of the former sheriff.

“I knew that going in I was a true unknown, so it’s very humbling for me to have people who came out to write the name. And it’s even more humbling though, for me, for the people who came out yesterday, stood in the cold weather, and tried to promote my candidacy,” he said.

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