'It's time for change:' Community welcomes incoming Wake County sheriff
Posted November 19, 2018 9:54 p.m. EST
Updated November 19, 2018 10:28 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Community activists on Monday celebrated Gerald Baker, who ran with little name recognition for Wake County sheriff against a four-term incumbent and won.
Sherriff-elect Gerald Baker, a Democrat who has worked in the sheriff's office for 28 years, defeated Donnie Harrison, a Republican who was seeking his fifth term in office, by a 55 to 45 percent margin earlier this month.
Baker, a man known for being a stern, straight shooter on the campaign trail, became emotional entering the room Monday night as he addressed his supporters and activists who organized the reception.
“You agreed that it’s time for change,” he said.
After greetings and pleasantries, he got to business, reinforcing his opposition to the 287(g) program, which partners with ICE to bring people into federal custody if they are believed to be in the country illegally.
“We’re going to deal with you according to the law, not where you came from or whether you deserve to be there or not. That’s above the sheriff’s office,” Baker said.
Baker said he spent most of the day Monday touring the county jail, where he also vowed to make changes.
“It’s understaffed and so you’ve got the people that are now working very, very hard trying to get the job done, but they don’t have the help,” he said.
Those at Monday night’s reception, particularly those from the black community, said they’re hopeful for new beginnings.
“I expect the sheriff’s office to be fair to everybody and open to everybody,” one supporter said.
“I believe this is about coming in and electing someone who’s going to run that office the way it’s supposed to run internally and out here in the county,” Baker said.
Baker said transparency and accountability will be two of his main pillars.