In a year when presidential politics is obscuring other news and the November election ballot is also crowded with a Congressional race, a State Senate contest and four ballot questions, it might be easy to miss two contested races for county office. But voters are deciding a hotly contested two-way race for Barnstable County Sheriff, and a four-way race for two seats on the board of county commissioners.
Sheriff James Cummings, the incumbent Republican, is facing a challenge from Democrat Randy Azzato of Falmouth. In recent weeks the campaign has become heated, with each candidate launching accusations against the other.
Having spent 23 years in the Massachusetts State Police, Cummings was elected sheriff in 1999. During his tenure, he oversaw the construction and opening of the county correctional facility and its subsequent accreditation and re-accreditation by the American Correctional Association. The sheriff is credited with introducing an innovative program that uses the drug Vivitrol to help inmates break their addictions to opiates.
A resident of Falmouth for the last 15 years, Azzato is currently pursuing his master's degree in government from Harvard University. A former police officer, corporal and deputy U.S. Marshall in Virginia, Azzato has had training in homeland security and management and is an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Bay State College. He is employed by the Virginia-based Cogar Group, a security contractor for the federal government.
Voters will also choose two candidates from a field of four seeking to become county commissioners. Incumbent Mary Pat Flynn is seeking reelection, and challengers Ronald Beaty, Linda Bond and Mark Forest are seeking to join the three-member board. While there are two open seats, by statute candidates Bond and Forest cannot both be elected, since they both live in Yarmouth.
Having served on the Falmouth Board of Selectmen for four terms, Democrat Flynn was first elected county commissioner in 2008. A former hospital nursing administrator, she owned and operated a small business in North Falmouth for 16 years, and then served as the human resources director for the town of Plymouth.
Ronald Beaty, a Tea Party Republican from West Barnstable, has earned a reputation as a perennial candidate, having run unsuccessfully for a variety of offices. He holds several degrees in American studies, administration and education technology. He spent time in a federal prison after being convicted of sending threatening letters to then-President George H.W. Bush and others in Washington.
In her public remarks, Republican Linda Bond of Yarmouth claims to be the working person's candidate. She has experience working in various food service, hospitality and guest services businesses, and also worked in child development. Her background includes managing personnel and budgets, keeping costs in line.
Former Provincetown town manager and aide to Congressmen Gerry Studds and William Delahunt, Mark Forest has been a participant in many groups working on the Cape's most pressing problems, from groundwater pollution and transportation to affordable housing and support for commercial fishermen. Forest is a development consultant and college professor.
In the Ninth Massachusetts Congressional race, incumbent Democrat William Keating of Bourne is being challenged by Republican Mark Alliegro of Falmouth and three independent candidates: Paul J. Harrington of Chatham, Christopher Cataldo of Norwell, and Ana Grace Raduc of Halifax.
The polls in the Nov. 8 election will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents of Harwich and Chatham vote at their respective community centers, while Orleans residents vote at the town's senior center.