When Jesse Slaughter asked members of the Cascade County Democrat Central Committee for their support for his candidacy as a Democrat for Cascade County Sheriff in 2018, some members wondered whether the commitment he espoused for the Democratic Party was less a conviction and more a calculation. A twenty-five-year veteran of the Sheriff’s office had already declared his candidacy as a Republican and Jesse, as an outsider with far less experience, would have had a hard time winning in a primary.
But Jesse assured us that our values were his values. We took him at his word. We posted yard signs, made calls on his behalf, and promoted his candidacy on our web page and at events throughout the county.
Once elected, Cascade County Democrats have seen little of Jesse Slaughter. He never contacted us to learn more about or weigh in on the positions and planks of our party platform. We witnessed statements and actions that were not only inconsistent with the values and positions of Cascade County Democrats, but with the Rule of Law itself.
When it comes to respecting the Constitutions of this state and our nation, especially when there is a camera in the room, Jesse just cannot stay in his lane. Whether it is the County Health Board, our local political party, our courts, the Board of Regents, or Robert’s Rules of Order, he thinks he knows better. He fails to understand that his job is to enforce the laws … not interpret them.
So, Jesse’s announcement on June 15th that he would be running for re-election as a Republican was not a surprise. Nonetheless, his statement contains some glaring errors we feel the Cascade County Democrat Party must correct for the sake of an informed electorate.
First, Jesse’s characterization of the positions of the Cascade County Democratic Party is calculated to create an impression that is contrary to fact. As citizens of Cascade County, Democrats support for our local law enforcement officers is unwavering. Our support for them is unique in that we have also been unwavering in supporting their right to organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions.
Second, Jesse claims his break with the Democratic Party was triggered by a personal Facebook post from a Great Falls Democrat. Jesse demanded via email that the Democrats censure that individual. Now he claims we did not respond to that demand.
That is not true.
In fact, we did respond via email on June 11th. We refused to act as the “Facebook Police.” Any individual in this community – whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent – has the right to express his/her views without fear within the parameters provided by the courts. We believe the First Amendment fits into any “constitutionalist” principles at least as importantly as does the Second.
Finally, as Sheriff, Mr. Slaughter should be concerned with the safety and well-being of EVERYONE in the county. By making political “hay” of an individual’s Facebook post, he put a target on the back of a citizen of Cascade County whose protection is in his care. Professional ethics should put him above that.
Many people in Cascade County supported Jesse because he presented himself as a Democrat. He would not have won election without that support. Now, he is able run for office with all the benefits of being an incumbent – including, as we saw this week, wearing the uniform of Sheriff as he posed for the camera in calculated outrage about the Facebook post of a local citizen.
Jesse Slaughter has betrayed the trust voters placed in him for the sake of a contrived political maneuver. The CCDCC calls on him to resign his position, allow the Democrats who elected him to replace him as provided by law, and give the voters an honest choice in the next election.
Ron Szabo, Chairman
Cascade County Central Committee