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How to Run for Sheriff in 2024

3 min read
Good Party Politics Team · Feb 28, 2024

A county sheriff's duties differ from county to county and state to state. However, in almost every jurisdiction, the sheriff holds a central role in law enforcement. Serving as sheriff raises the leadership profile of those who hold the office, whether they come to it with extensive experience or as a relative outsider. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the basic job description of a sheriff and provide tips to help you launch an effective campaign for office.

What Does the Job of Sheriff Look Like in 2024?

As noted, sheriff requirements largely depend on the county government. The state may also have a say in the duties of county sheriff. Among the diverse duties performed throughout the United States, sheriffs typically do the following:

  • Managing the county jail

  • Overseeing the security of county courts

  • Traffic enforcement on county roads (usually in tandem with local police)

  • Conducting foreclosures and seizures of property in the event of unpaid taxes

The scope of a sheriff’s duties can very well determine the expected qualifications of candidates. The best way to get definite information regarding candidate eligibility is to reach out to your county's clerk or state's Secretary of State. Among the usual standards for eligibility are minimum age, residency or citizenship, education, professional recognition, and a criminal background check. Once those thresholds are crossed, running for sheriff is open to you.

There are, of course, exceptions and variations on each of these criteria. The unit of government occupied by the sheriff is either an office or a department, and its powers are enumerated by the state constitution or by legislative statute. So, this role looks very similar among the counties of a given state. In New Jersey, for example, this elected official is charged with "courthouse security and prisoner transport, disposition of seized property, through sheriff sales, and the patrolling of county parks and other facilities." 

Meanwhile, Utah sheriffs are expected to enforce all criminal codes within the county boundaries; serve the needs of county courts, including appointing bailiffs; and administer county jails. Each task demands a certain set of management skills and knowledge of the criminal justice system.

With various jobs to do and various levels of experience required, how are county sheriffs compensated? As a general rule, a sheriff salary reflects the cost and standard of living of the region in which this person serves. Northeastern states show an average annual sheriff salary in excess of $75,000, whereas the southeastern states rarely exceed $65,000. Public service is not intended to be profitable, of course, but a law enforcement officer with an exceptional background may expect the county to recognize this in the form of remuneration.


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Running for Sheriff in Today's Political World

As you get started preparing for the campaign trail, you’ll want to look into the specific requirements and deadlines that have been set for sheriff campaigns in your area. You can explore the offices up for election in your area here. Be sure to pay attention to filing deadlines and eligibility requirements.

Here are just a few of the sheriff positions up for election in 2024, whose filing deadlines are quickly approaching:

Once you’ve made sure you can meet the appropriate deadlines and requirements, you’ll need to decide whether you want to run for office under the banner of a political party, or as an independent. Next, make a survey of the leadership strengths and weaknesses of potential opponents. What makes you stand out in the field of candidates? In addition, success demands that a candidate know their future constituents well to understand their concerns and priorities.

With those initial questions answered, the process of getting on the ballot awaits. Each state maintains its own parameters for ballot access, so confirming what you need to do with the Secretary of State's office is a crucial preliminary step.

From there, the following steps are key to launching an effective campaign for the sheriff’s office:

  • Build a strong campaign platform. Research residents’ top concerns related to law enforcement, and focus on issues that resonate with voters in your community.

  • Gather a campaign team. Running for office is rarely a solo endeavor. Rally the support of family members, friends, and volunteers who can be there for you throughout the campaign.

  • Design a campaign strategy. Make plans for voter outreach and engagement, fundraising, and get-out-the-vote efforts.

  • Connect with voters. Don’t wait to get started building relationships with potential voters and supporters.

  • Iterate and keep learning. As the election season goes on, use data and key insights to build on your learning and continue improving your outreach strategies.

Note that effective fundraising can prove crucial for many campaigns for the sheriff’s office. Seeking small-dollar donations and using crowdfunding as part of your fundraising strategy can be a helpful way to raise campaign funds while rallying support for your campaign. 

Another important strategy is to seek endorsements from respected individuals and organizations in your community. Endorsements can come from local politicians, businesspeople, and civic leaders. 

Free Support for Independent Campaigns

Want to serve your community without being tied to partisan interests? Running for sheriff as an independent candidate honors the non-partisan nature of the sheriff’s office. It gives you the freedom to build your own platform and serve your neighbors without caving to big-money interests and corporate donors.

Good Party offers free campaign tools and resources for independent, non-partisan, and third-party candidates across the country, including campaigns for sheriff. We’re supporting candidates who are intent on serving their communities and making a real difference. Ready to learn more? Book a free consultation about launching your campaign for sheriff, or explore Good Party’s suite of free campaign tools here.                                                    

Photo by Martin Jernberg on Unsplash


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How to Run for Office
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By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.