Jackson is sheriff elect
Sep. 19, 2002
Greg Johnson
Staff Writer

After a contentious and sometimes bitter campaign, the new sheriff of Prince George's County said his first priorities would be to seek more resources for the agency and set up a public outreach program.

"It is very necessary because I can't effectively serve the community unless I am working with the community," said Cpl. Michael Jackson during an interview Tuesday. "That's something we haven't been doing and it is not hard to do."

Jackson, a 12-year member of the department and president of the deputies' union, bested Sheriff Alonzo Black in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary. According to the elections board, Jackson received 50.4 percent of the ballots with 51,041. Black garnered a total of 50,234 votes-- or 49.6 percent.

Alisha Alexander, assistant administrator with the board, said Tuesday that about 100 provisional and military ballots remained to be counted. The official results are expected to be certified Friday.

Black and Jackson were the only two candidates who filed for the sheriff's position. Jackson will be sworn in Dec. 3.

Black has been unavailable for comment since the night of the election. Sources at the sheriff's office said Black has been on vacation this week.

Jackson said he expected a close race.

"To defeat an incumbent is a huge feat to accomplish," Jackson said. "I definitely could not have done it without the help of family and friends. These guys really got out and spread the word."

The outcome of the sheriff's race remained undecided 48 hours after the polls closed Sept. 10. Votes from nine precincts out of the 209 voting centers could not be tabulated for two days because of faulty transmission of the data from the new electronic voting machines.

This delay was the latest disruption of a turbulent campaign that involved heated rhetoric and serious allegations of misconduct, as well as unexpected tragedy.

Two members of the agency, Sgt. James Arnaud and Deputy Elizabeth Magruder were killed Aug. 29 when they tried to serve a civil warrant ordering 23-year-old James Logan to undergo a psychological evaluation. Logan shot the two deputies before fleeing his Adelphi home, police said. He was captured Aug. 31 in Langley Park.

Family members said Logan had previously been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but that he had refused treatment. Some members of the Deputy Sheriff's Association of Prince George's County, which supported Jackson's bid against the sheriff, said three deputies are supposed to serve such warrants, but Magruder and Arnaud were the only ones sent to find Logan.

The union blamed Black for manpower problems that have persisted throughout his tenure as sheriff and for neglecting other responsibilities. About 70 members issued a symbolic vote of "no confidence" in Black's leadership during a special meeting Aug. 23.

Black said union officials have been trying to assert their influence over the sheriff's office and that he had worked hard to improve a troubled agency since taking over in 1998. People who supported his opponent tore down his campaign signs, Black said, and political enemies on the department have been deliberately neglecting their duties in order to undermine his administration.

Jackson said he appreciated the support of national leaders, such as Rep. Albert Wynn (D- Dist. 5), and prominent state leaders during his campaign. He plans to seek further support, he said, to boost the resources available to the agency.

"We just need to figure out how we'll be able to maximize those relationships as far as garnering resources," Jackson said.

E-mail Greg Johnson at gjohnson@gazette.net.