Brice Stewart will face Sharp in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary. Stewart, a former Ferrelview police chief and a computer technician for Jackson County, has a pending lawsuit against Sharp in federal court.
Stewart says his rights were violated when Sharp allegedly arranged last year to have him reassigned from his job at the Sheriff’s Department after Sharp learned Stewart intended to run against him.
Stewart was then the computer tech for the Sheriff’s Department, as well as other county offices in eastern Jackson County. He says the reassignment cost him financially because he had to drive longer distances to get to his new job downtown.
The attorney representing Sharp, the county and four other defendants who allegedly arranged to have Stewart moved out of the Sheriff’s Department argued that Stewart’s rights were not violated and that even if they were, Sharp and the others have qualified immunity.
Sharp was first elected sheriff in 2008 and is seeking his third term.
Stewart ran for county executive in 2014 and was defeated in the general election by Mike Sanders, who resigned last month. Frank White, the interim executive, filed his nomination papers Tuesday to serve out the final two years of Sanders’ term.
Stewart also alleged political retaliation leading up to that election bout with Sanders. Jackson County officials seized and searched his county-issued desktop and laptop computers after he filed to run as a Republican against Sanders, a Democrat.
Jackson County Counselor W. Stephen Nixon investigated what he said then were “allegations of unauthorized access to confidential records.” Stewart was later cleared and said the investigation by Nixon, a Sanders appointee, was “a bullying and intimidation tactic.”
Baker is seeking her second full term. A former Democratic state legislator, Baker resigned her seat in 2011 when Sanders appointed her to fill the vacancy heading the county prosecutor’s office. She ran unopposed in 2012 in both the primary and general elections.
No other county elective offices are up this year, but a number of party precinct committee seats will be filled. The filing deadline is March 29.