Former Franklin County Sheriff’s Captain John Grismore won 54 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, but he may end up being impeached before he can take office.
Grismore faces a simple assault charge after a video emerged of him kicking a detainee in the groin in August. He was eventually fired after an investigation, but he refused to exit the race.
Franklin County State Sen. Randy Brock said that while legislators cannot be impeached for acts known before an election, that doesn’t apply to sheriff candidates. “There still is the possibility of impeachment,” he said.
Grismore was fired in September — too late for any other candidates to be named on the ballot. But it opened the door for two unnamed write-in candidates who gathered more than 8,500 votes, with about 1,000 still to be counted — the most ever for a St. Albans election, officials said.
Mark Lauer, a Franklin County deputy and former longtime Vermont State Police trooper who had the backing of the Franklin County Republican and Democratic parties, said that because they couldn’t begin campaigning until September, write-in candidates faced an uphill battle.
“I’ve got a lot of years in law enforcement, but the community doesn’t know me because I’ve not been out in public,” he said “Not being on the ballot was the most difficult aspect of the campaign.”
Gale Messier, the other write-in, worked at the Chittenden County Sheriff’s office for over 20 years. He said even those close to him were unaware of the unprecedented race.
“A lot of people didn’t even know that me and Mark were running,” he said. “One of my cousins just checked the box — he didn’t even know I was running.”
Michael Maddox, a voter who said he worked with Grismore, said he wasn’t aware of the write-in candidates. He left the race blank on his ballot.
“I want a sheriff that obeys and protects people and is fair to all people,” he said.
Grismore didn’t respond to requests for comment on the election. But he defended his actions in a September interview with Northwest Access Television.
“So, I went in and with my foot, pushed it on his lower abdomen in his hip area in an effort to seat him back on the bench, and why I used my foot was because I wanted to make sure I kept my face as far away from his face as possible,” Grismore said.
Lauer said he would not stay in the department if Grismore is elected, and that members of the department would have a meeting to discuss their future.