BRENTWOOD — Michael Downing of Salem wants to continue serving as Rockingham County sheriff, setting up another showdown Tuesday with challenger John Clark.
Downing, a former state representative and senator, was first elected sheriff in 2010, but faced a strong challenge from Clark in the Republican primary that September.
Downing was declared the winner of the tight, six-way race, with Clark finishing second. The other candidates were David Lovejoy of Hampton, Fran Grzasko of Salem, Doug Mullin of Salem and Dan Dumaine of Auburn. No Democrats were on the ballot, but Shannon Coyle of Londonderry ran a successful write-in candidacy.
Downing ran unopposed in the primary two months ago.
He is an Army veteran who worked for the New Hampshire State Police for nearly 20 years before moving on to the Salem Police Department, from which he retired because of a disability. Downing served in the New Hampshire House from 1996-2002 and then the state Senate from 2006-2-10.
Clark, a Rye resident now running as a Democrat, said he has the criminal justice experience necessary to be an effective sheriff. Clark began his career as a police officer in 1972.
After three years with the Hampton Police Department, Clark then serving as the director of evaluations at the New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Crime and Delinquency. In 1978, he was appointed clerk of Hampton District Court, where he served for 33 years until retiring.
Downing has received the support of former Sheriff Dan Linehan, among others. Clark’s supporters include Lovejoy.
Political party: Democrat
Occupation: Former police officer, court clerk
Elective office experience: None
What do you plan to do if elected: The sheriff’s primary duty is to enforce the court’s orders. I bring my proven administrative success and my dedication to honesty, decency, respect and common sense.
Political party: Republican
Occupation: Rockingham County sheriff
Elective office experience: Sheriff, state representative, state Senate
What do you plan to do if elected: I will continue to provide assistance to the 37 local communities, as well as the programs and services that enhance public safety in the most cost-effective manner.