After just one term Kent County Sheriff Norman Wood has decided against running for a second term in the upcoming Nov. 4, 2014 election.
Wood said Tuesday the reason for the decision has partially to do with the fact he is currently the interim police chief in Smyrna. Wood was elected county sheriff in 2010 and is nearing the end of his four-year term.
Wood said due to the Hatch Act of 1939, he is unable to run for sheriff in this year’s election. The Hatch Act was created to prevent members of the executive branch from engaging in partisan political activity. Since Wood is the interim chief and deals with federal grants, he is unable to campaign to be the county sheriff.
“There’s no problem with a person being chief and sheriff, but I can’t campaign in another election.”
With the filing deadline for the election in three weeks on July 8, Wood felt as if he had to make a decision. Therefore, he informed the Democratic Party three weeks ago that he would not seek a second term.
“It’s not fair to keep them waiting for my decision to run or not,” Wood said. “It’s not fair for the citizens of the county.”
Thus far, no one has filed on the Democratic ticket; Republican Jason Mollohan, of Dover, has filed for sheriff.
Wood was named the interim Smyrna police chief at the Jan. 6 Smyrna Town Council meeting. At the time, Smyrna Mayor Joanne Masten expected the process of hiring a new chief to take about two to three months; the town used the assistance of the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council to search for a new chief. Six months later Wood, who applied for the chief position, is still working on an interim basis as the town has yet to name a new police chief; he has been with the Smyrna Police Department for over 22 years.
During his term as sheriff, Wood said he’s accomplished a lot including bringing the office up-to-date technology wise and streamlining work done by the office. In 2013, the department implemented a new system, the first in the nation, to electronically file sheriff returns. The Sheriff’s Office moved into the county complex when the court house was completed. The move helped improve upon the relationship the office has with Kent County administration.
Wood said a lot of complaints were made regarding the Sheriff’s Office and finances when he campaigned; working in the county complex has allowed for a checks and balances system of sorts between the Sheriff’s Office and the Finance Department so monies are closely monitored.
A Sheriff’s Office employee was recently arrested on embezzlement charges for allegedly stealing money from the office. Wood couldn’t comment on the arrest, but said it had no bearing on his decision.
“The Town of Smyrna has been good to me. I’ve made a lot of friends in my 22-plus years. It’s a lot more close-knit being a chief in a town than it is a sheriff in a county, and I like that,” Wood said.
Wood said the last six months as interim chief have been a challenge but he’s enjoyed every minute.
“I like being sheriff, but I like being chief more. I can do more good here,” he said.