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Forte Wins Democratic Nomination For Jackson County Sheriff

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

Updated 10:01 p.m. Tuesday:

The brief race for the Democratic nomination for Jackson County Sheriff wasn’t close Tuesday night. The county Democratic Committee overwhelmingly went for interim Sheriff Darryl Forte, who received more votes than his two challengers combined did.  

Forte, the former Kansas City Police chief, got 57 votes. Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mike Rogers had 17 votes and Rick Inglima, the Lee’s Summit Police Sergeant who got into the race this week, got only 14. Former Kansas City Police Sgt. Ramona Arroyo was not nominated after not attending the meeting.

Forte said after winning the nomination the deputies are looking for leadership and integrity. “I possess those skills.”

The only drama came early in the evening when the committee chair spotted Republican candidate David Bernal in the room and demanded he wait in the hallway.

Bernal, a former FBI agent, is a political newcomer and is not well known. If fact, he says he doesn’t believe a Republican has ever been elected Jackson County Sheriff. “I would like to be the first one, but we’ll have to wait and see how that turns out.”

The original story continues below:

Jackson County Democrats are set to meet Tuesday night to pick a candidate for Jackson County Sheriff.

The primary election for sheriff was canceled after the county Democratic Committee sued. The committee argued, and a circuit court judge agreed, that state law called for party committee members to choose candidates rather than hold a primary after an incumbent resigns.

Former sheriff Mike Sharp stepped down in April amid a sex scandal. He admitted to an improper sexual and financial relationship with a former civilian employee in the sheriff’s office.

Members of the Democratic Committee will gather in Independence to pick a candidate. Expected nominations include interim Sheriff Darryl Forte, current sheriff’s office Capt. Mike Rogers and former Kansas City Police Department Sgt. Ramona Arroyo.

A fourth potential candidate has surfaced. Lee’s Summit Police Sgt. Rick Inglima might also be nominated, according to county Democratic Committee Executive Director Geoff Gerling. Inglima is also president of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police.

Gerling said Forte and Rogers have been calling committee members asking for support.

Republicans met earlier and nominated former FBI agent Mike Bernal as their candidate.

The resignation of Sharp has turned the usually sleepy sheriff’s election into a spectacle. There were public interviews for the interim sheriff selection that produced Forte, the former chief of the Kansas City Police Department, as sheriff.

All but one of the applicants launched campaigns for sheriff.

As Forte campaigned, he even accused former part time civil employees hired by Sharp of being paid and not working.

Forte said he turned over information about two former employees to an outside law enforcement agency for possible criminal investigations.

One of those part time employees was John Beaudoin, who the Sheriff’s office contracted to write news releases and do social media.

Beaudoin runs a small communications firm in Lee’s Summit and vehemently denies Forte’s allegation. “He is suggesting that I didn't do any work for the sheriff's office and just took a paycheck. I think that's unfair since he's never met me,” Beaudoin said.

He sent KCUR a number of links to social media posts and news releases he wrote working part time for Sharp.

Beaudoin said he was paid $10 an hour for 20 hours a week work and that social media and communications is work often done from home.

The other part time employee who Forte accused of not working was Jeff Jones, according to The Kansas City Star. Jones did not return a message on LinkedIn.

KCUR requested an update from Forte last week on any possible criminal investigations. As of Monday afternoon, Forte’s spokesperson had not responded with new information.

Sam Zeff is KCUR's metro reporter. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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