Response to Daily Hampshire Gazette Article 8/23/22: Sheriff’s Office Suspicious Activity

To the Constituents of the Hampshire County Sheriff Election from the Candidate:

This post is to address the article that has been published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette this morning, Wednesday, August 23, 2022. If you have not had a chance to read it, I urge you to do so via the link below. With the Democratic Primary around the corner, it is imperative that you know who your sheriff is, and it is equally important for you to be aware of who you will potentially be voting for to continue in the role of sheriff for the next six years.

The article by Brian Steele highlights a violation of the code of conduct, demonstrates harassment of a public employee by their supervisor, and a wanton disregard for the democratic election process by a member of the current Cahillane Administration that I, another candidate challenging the incumbent, and my supporters have been subjected to. I, and members of my campaign, have been aware of this incident for some time. We felt it most important to make sure this information was well documented, handled by the most appropriate parties, vetted by external parties and that the involved employee, and their family, were safe. It is important now to make voters and community members aware of the internal happenings at the Hampshire Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Cahillane.

As mentioned in the article, and as corroborated by the police reports filed with the Southampton Police Department earlier this month, the Hampshire Sheriff’s Office Deputy Superintendent, the same role Sheriff Cahillane held prior to his election as Sheriff 6 years ago, drove to a current staff's home and photographed their home, their family and signage supporting my candidacy that was posted on their private property. A step aimed at — what one might imagine — future retribution or retaliation towards the employee for their lack of support for the incumbent should his term continue. It is important to note that this was done while the Deputy Superintendent was on the clock, utilizing a state vehicle issued to her, paid for by taxpayer money. This was done not once, but at least twice.

These highly unprofessional acts were committed without hesitation and seemingly without fear of repercussion from her current supervisor, Sheriff of Hampshire County - Patrick Cahillane. I want people to know that the Deputy Superintendent serves at the pleasure and will of the Sheriff and answers directly to that position. Whether the Sheriff has directed or encouraged the behavior demonstrated in these incidents is for other parties to determine. What is of importance to voters at this moment is understanding the toxic leadership environment created directly by Sheriff Cahillane that has allowed Executive Administrators to feel as though they can act in this manner with impunity. And they are not wrong. The Deputy Superintendent has remained employed, at work and in charge of day to day operations and supervision of all staff, including the staff whose home, family and signage she photographed, without stoppage from the date of this incident through publication of this article.

I have been clearly and repeatedly saying from the beginning of my candidacy that current staff are largely in favor of my campaign but are hesitant to publicly demonstrate that support. This article very clearly demonstrates why. I have spoken of the low morale amongst staff members on a number of occasions and some of the reasons why this is the case. This article very clearly demonstrates why. I commend the bravery of the staff member noted in this article for coming forward, reporting and fully documenting this incident. The worry and fear in them and for their family and career is no doubt immense and speaking up for themselves in the face of unknown repercussions is courageous. I commend the bravery of the staff who continue to be supportive of my campaign in the face of the behavior demonstrated by the Deputy Superintendent and by the Sheriff’s clear support of her noted in this article. It is one thing to remain loyal to staff when shielded by ignorance, it is another entirely to remain so when presented with facts.

I encourage voters and county constituents to ask the hard questions. To hold to account their elected officials. To bear in mind the difficult setting that corrections is to work and then to imagine the additional level of strain placed on staff who, in exercising their rights, are subjected to this treatment by their supervisors. We must have higher expectations for our elected officials and we must demand that they are held to that expectation, fiercely.

Caitlin Sepeda

Candidate for Hampshire County Sheriff

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