ELECTION 2022 Craig Kontra inches closer to victory in Calvert Sheriff race as powerhouse fundraising puts Sheriff’s Star in reach
BY KENNETH C. ROSSIGNOL
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
News and Commentary
PRINCE FREDERICK, MD. – When Craig Kontra raised his hand the first time in a Calvert County Courtroom it was to be sworn in as a deputy sheriff under the administration of Sheriff Adrian Joy.
Spending his entire adult life working as a law officer, Kontra was one of the first undercover detectives deployed in Southern Maryland to detect, deter and bring before the system of justice those intent on profiting off of the spreading of addiction to citizens of the region.
Retired Charles County Sheriff Commander Dave Williams posted the following on Kontra’s campaign Facebook page: “I was honored and proud to work many years in the So. Md. Narcotics Task Force with you. You were an asset to the Southern Maryland region in the fight against drug use and drug dealing. Your drive and ethical approach in law enforcement were incredible and I salute you on your great career. Now there’s work to do to complete your next law enforcement chapter.”
After three decades working in nearly every aspect of police work, Kontra retired in the Calvert Sheriff’s Department in 2020 and now is seeking for the third time, the position of Sheriff.
SEE KONTRA FOR SHERIFF website.
Kontra ran against the incumbent Mike Evans in 2014 and 2018, the last time closing the gap by just several hundred votes.
Running for the GOP nomination, thus far, as the filing deadline on February 22nd, notably George Washington’s birthday, are Ricky Cox, Dave McDowell, Mike Wilson, and Kontra. Vaughn Jay Johnson is the only Democrat that has filed.
While golf tournaments, crab feasts, and oyster roasts are common for politicians and sheriff candidates to feature as fundraisers, Kontra is sponsoring a fundraiser that aims high and doesn’t mince any words.
Springtime at Porky’s
Calling his SPRINGFEST the ‘Event of The Year’, Kontra’s fundraiser is all about the ‘oink’ and ought to please everyone who likes all there is to like about pigs. The menu includes Italian Sausage, Hot Dogs, and Pulled Pork – and it’s all you can eat!
While most politicians try to find a small rental hall to be able to claim the place was packed, Kontra has only Great Expectations and just like Pip, the blacksmith’s apprentice in the book by Charles Dickens, Kontra’s event will include barn stalls, games of Cornhole and a live band at the Calvert County Fairgrounds on April 23, 2022, a venue big enough to hold a huge crowd.
As the event includes cold beer, attendees must be twenty-one years of age and will run from one to five o’clock. Kontra said that there would be mandatory designated drivers provided to be sure the event is not the source of adding an impaired driver to the highways.
Kontra Fundraising Impressive
Given the more than 286 campaign contributions already declared, Kontra’s explosive fundraising will be setting the bar for the spending in the Calvert County Sheriff’s race with well over $50,000 raised, most of which coming from small donations.
Preventing Impaired Driving Starts with Stopping Impaired Driving by Deputies
Calvert County Sheriff Deputy Joseph F. Migliaccio crashed on Dares Beach Road, which leads to his home in Dares Beach, hitting a pedestrian and killing her on Oct. 29, 2019. Deputy Migliaccio, who is now 36 years of age, was driving a pickup truck when he left the roadway and struck and killed Leah Christine Clark, 34, of Prince Frederick, Md. As a result of the police investigation and evidence presented to the Calvert County Circuit Court Grand Jury, on February 19, 2020, the following indictments were issued:
- Felony negligent manslaughter
- Criminal negligent manslaughter with a motor vehicle
- Two counts of felony negligent homicide
- Four counts of driving under the influence
- Other traffic charges of speeding and negligent driver were also charged.
The trial for the now resigned Deputy Migliaccio has been delayed several times since the indictments were handed down and now is set for March 14, 2022, with a trial with a jury and Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Michele Dane Jaklitsch presiding.
KONTRA WILL IMPLEMENT INVESTIGATIONS BY OUTSIDE AGENCIES; PROMISES CULTURE CHANGE INVOLVING ALCOHOL
Craig Kontra issued the following statement after the crash of a Calvert Deputy Sheriff in an incident being investigated as a possible case of a deputy driving while impaired in January of 2022.
As a 2022 Sheriff’s candidate, a significant number of the voting public has approached me seeking comment on the recent allegations of deputies drinking and driving. After giving this some serious thought, I decided no one should be left in the silence maintained by the current administration. My comments below will not mention the names of the accused. None of the cases have been adjudicated as of this writing, so they are considered innocent until proven otherwise.
That said, let me first recap: In October 2019, an off-duty deputy was allegedly under the influence of alcohol when said deputy crashed into a pedestrian on the side of Dares Beach Road, resulting in a tragic loss of life.
Then, just a few weeks ago, a Calvert deputy was captured on video arguing with a female who was seemingly trying to stop the deputy from driving while intoxicated. The video received a significant amount of negative publicity on social media and YouTube.
The most recent event occurred Friday, January 7. Again, an off-duty deputy was involved in a personal injury accident while operating an agency vehicle. Investigators are looking into whether alcohol was a possible cause.
Here’s my take: Alcoholism is a serious disease/addiction. When left untreated, it often can have life altering consequences, as indicated in two of the three allegations listed above. Also, alcohol addiction does not discriminate. It affects every race, every sex, every career path and yes, it even affects law enforcement.
It doesn’t take but a few minutes of reading the public comments involving any one of these incidents to realize that the citizens of Calvert County feel a sense of betrayal. But it also stings each and every deputy, perhaps even more. They swear to and sign an “Oath of Affirmation” to bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America and to the State of Maryland and to serve honestly and faithfully.
When I become Sheriff. I will implement a two-step program to prevent and deter future indiscretions by those who are entrusted to protect and serve:
* I will emphasize to my staff the consequences for violating any of our state laws. I’ll discourage such behavior by making them fully aware that such actions will not be swept under the rug or dismissed without consequences.
* I will institute a cultural change within the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office. I will encourage individuals with drinking disorders to come forward and seek help. Seeking help will no longer be viewed as a sign of weakness but rather as a sign of strength, as it should be.
* I will educate my commanders, supervisors, and deputies on the early warning signs of drinking disorders so they can intervene and seek help at the first indication of abuse.
Step No. 2:
* It all begins in the recruiting and hiring process. Recruiting, hiring and retaining the best law enforcement officers is critical for a safe, thriving community. A diverse and inclusive agency workforce that reflects the community leads to increased trust. Therefore, it’s critical to find the right people during the hiring process. We can no longer conduct lackadaisical background investigations. Currently, backgrounds are conducted in 90 days or less. That will change under my leadership.
* Investigators will be mandated to knock on the doors of an applicant’s neighbors; not just the neighbors who are listed as references, but those neighbors who are not on the reference list. Investigators will make in-person visits to former employers and review social media accounts. In short, the time to dig into an applicant’s worthiness of becoming a law enforcement officer is in the pre-employment phase. We need to dig into one’s character, decision making abilities and social activities, and devote more time to do it and do it right. Under my leadership, the hiring process will become a complete and thorough investigation into an applicant’s background and capabilities to perform the functions of this admirable profession in accordance with the oath they swear to.
My final thought: The trust of those who elect any Sheriff is invaluable. When I am elected, I vow to work to maintain that trust every day I’m in office. Furthermore, I make the solemn promise that if major incidents such as these occur on my watch, I will request the Maryland State Police to step in to handle the investigation.
Having worked for the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office for more than 30 years, I know from first-hand experience that we have highly qualified investigators who are fully capable of looking into critical and major incidents. But the perception of investigating your own agency does not sit well with the public and is often perceived as a cover up, even when that’s not the case. So, to avoid even the hint of such a suggestion, I will go outside for a look inside.