I’m running for High Bailiff because the position was designed to put the sheriff’s office under independent, civilian oversight.
What is High Bailiff?
The High Bailiff is the one person in each county authorized to arrest the sheriff on state warrants. Nobody is sure whether that’s ever actually happened.
The true importance of this office lies not in its official duties, but in what it stands for. Electing a person, independently of the sheriff, to ensure that the sheriff cannot violate the law with impunity puts the state’s police power under civilian oversight and control. This serves as a crucial failsafe, securing our rights as members of a democratic society. It is a concrete example of “power to the people”.
In recent decades, we’ve lost sight of this important symbolism. A relatively modern tradition has emerged, where the High Bailiff office is now seen by members of the law enforcement community as something like “sheriff in waiting”. Through our deference to uniformed police officers, we’ve ceded oversight of the law enforcement community to the law enforcement community itself. This creates an inherent conflict of interest, and deprives us of an important, if symbolic, check on the awesome powers of the sheriff’s office.
The office of High Bailiff should be held by a civilian.
A passionate advocate for criminal justice and drug policy reform.
The War on Drugs has destroyed countless lives, wasted billions of dollars, and created widespread, systemic injustice — all while utterly failing to reduce problematic drug use or enhance public safety. More broadly, our criminal justice system is deeply broken, and making us broke. Every year, we spend more than 9% of the state’s General Fund budget on jails, depriving us of the money we need to be investing in solving the major drivers of crime, such as lack of access to mental healthcare, underinvestment in education, and the lack of affordable housing.
Since 2015, I’ve been one of the leading voices in Vermont for legalizing and regulating cannabis, volunteering hundreds of hours both in Montpelier’s halls of power and back home in Addison County, helping make Vermont the first state in the nation to legalize cannabis through its legislature. I’ve organized free expungement clinics helping our formerly incarcerated neighbors get a fresh start. And as an Addison County delegate to the Vermont Democratic Party’s 2018 Platform Convention, I led a successful effort to re-write the party’s “Public Safety” platform to place greater focus on justice. This is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done, and I’m just getting started..
I’m running for High Bailiff because the position was designed to put the sheriff’s office under independent, civilian oversight. I’m also looking forward to visiting as many homes across the county as possible in the coming months, where, if you ask, I’d be excited to talk with you about how, together, we can reform Vermont’s criminal justice system so that it delivers more justice and greater safety, and doesn’t bust the state’s budget.