PressBill Niemi for Ashtabula County Sheriff

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Niemi seeking to be the county sheriff
By Jon Wysochanski jwysochanski@starbeacon.com

JEFFERSON — A former sheriff’s office lieutenant plans to run against Sheriff William Johnson in the November 2020 election.

Niemi, who worked under the sheriff since 1995, is one of more than a dozen sheriff’s office employees who have left the office since December. In his June resignation letter, Niemi cited his intention to run for sheriff as his reason for leaving.

Others who left include deputies, dispatchers and corrections officers. Many of the resignation letters expressed thanks for the employment opportunities and experience gained while working at the sheriff’s office.

During a telephone interview, Niemi said it is his first time running for public office and that he would release more details about his campaign at a later time. Niemi, who oversaw deputies and schedules in his capacity as a lieutenant, declined to discuss the turnover that has occurred within the office.

“I want to take a positive direction and approach to my campaign,” Niemi said.

Niemi started his law enforcement career with the Jefferson Police Department, and his experience along the way included being a former K9 handler in the sheriff’s office.

Change is needed because people get set in their ways, in my opinion, and you forget why you’re there.

In 2005 Niemi was promoted to sergeant, and in 2010 he was promoted to lieutenant. There are issues within the department, Niemi said, although he declined to discuss specifics and said he doesn’t want to get into mudslinging during his campaign.

One thing Niemi did say is that there should be a mandatory retirement age for sheriff like there is for judges, Niemi said.

“This way you would be able to change with the times, be open-minded and not be set in your ways,” Niemi said. “Change is needed because people get set in their ways, in my opinion, and you forget why you’re there.”

Niemi said he enjoyed his time working under Johnson, but he disagrees with him on certain aspects of the job and how the department is run. When employees are treated well they want to come to work and work hard, Niemi said.

Niemi said he left and decided to run for sheriff because he doesn’t like the direction the department is headed in.

“I’ve always supported the sheriff,” Niemi said. “When I first started supporting him I believed in him and what he wanted to do for the county. Over time, which comes with any office that you’re in for too long, you tend to forget where your goals are. You forget what’s best for the department and county.”

ACRP

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