LACONIA — Richard Robinson has won a spot on November’s general election ballot as the Democratic Party candidate for Belknap County sheriff after mounting a write-in campaign just days before Tuesday's primary.
Robinson, a former Sanbornton police chief, received 379 write-in votes on the Democratic Party ballot. No Democratic Party candidate had filed for the office.
Republican candidate Bill Wright meanwhile received 298 write-ins in the Democratic primary.
Robinson said Friday he would be spending the next few days putting his general election campaign together.
“We’ll see where it takes us,” said Robinson. A longtime registered Republican, Robinson said he will change his affiliation to independent.
Robinson launched his write-in campaign eight days before the primary, according to Steve Hodges, a supporter and campaign helper.
In recent months questions have been raised surrounding the circumstances that caused the Sheriff’s Department No. 2 man, David Perkins, who himself had considered running for sheriff, to be suspended with pay for six months and to be investigated three times, all without any public explanation. Perkins retired from the department in June.
Robinson said voters he talked with outside the polls Tuesday did not raise the Perkins issue.
“I’m certainly forming no opinion on that,” he said.
If elected, Robinson said he would take a “slow approach” in assessing operations within the Sheriff’s Department.
“If I then found that changes needed to be made, I would make them,” he said.
He said he would be stressing background in law enforcement, coupled with his more recent experience in managerial positions at AutoServ.
“I have executive-type experience managing 200 employees and a multimillion-dollar budget,” which he said is valuable experience in running the sheriff’s office. “And I have 20 years as a police chief, so I know how to apply that as well.”
Wright, a sergeant in the Sheriff’s Department, ran four years ago against Mike Moyer, who won that race in the Republican primary.
“I have been able to build on that base of support from that campaign,” he said.
Wright said he was “pretty confident” about the upcoming campaign.
He said that if he is elected that would provide opportunities for existing Sheriff’s Department personnel to move up in the organization. He said he would also work to expand the department’s budget.
Hodges said he was impressed that Robinson had been able to get nearly 8% of the votes cast for sheriff on a write-in campaign.
“I think that shows there is broad support,” he said.
“It was a pretty impressive effort,” said County Commissioner Hunter Taylor, another Robinson supporter.