CIRCLEVILLE — With the exception of the four years that Walton Spangler was the Pickaway County Sheriff from 1961 to 1964, a Radcliff has held that position for over 80 years. However, that may change with the 2020 election, as a local man has declared his candidacy on next year’s ballot, and is hoping to break the Radcliff cycle once again.
Retired Circleville Police Sergeant Matthew Hafey announced his plans to run for office during a party held in his honor after he retired from the Circleville Police Department on Nov. 8.
“It’s been a dream of mine during my entire career,” Hafey told The Circleville Herald.
If elected, Hafey said he wants to bring law enforcement in Pickaway County closer together.
“I don’t want to say there’s a disconnect, but there’s not the best relationship between the agencies, and I want to improve that,” he added. “As law enforcement officers, we’re having to do more with less as with businesses and entities both private and sector.
And if we’re able to work together we would accomplish so much more instead of working on our own.”
A member of law enforcement for over 16 years, Hafey was required by law to retire from the Police Department prior to announcing his candidacy per the Ohio Revised Code. Although he didn’t want to retire, he felt this was the perfect time to run for the Sheriff’s position.
“I didn’t want to sit by and not do anything when I believe that I can make some positive improvements in law enforcement, and I felt that it needed to be done,” Hafey stated.
When asked how his family feels about his announcement of running for Pickaway County Sheriff, Hafey said, “My wife and family are totally behind me. I wouldn’t be doing this without their support. It affects them as much if not more than it affects me.
“There’s so many things I will have to attend at the start of this campaign, but also once I’m hopefully elected, I’ll be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Hafey said his family is used to his long hours due to him being a supervisor, he would receive calls all hours of the night or on his off time.
Not only is his family supporting him in this endeavor, but he also has received a lot of positive feedback from all law enforcement in Pickaway County.
“The first thing I will do when elected is establish a mutual aid agreement,” he commented. “Right now Circleville doesn’t have a mutual aid agreement.”
He presented a scenario — if something serious happened at Walmart, which is just outside of Circleville Police jurisdiction, the PD would have no jurisdiction or power or law enforcement authority to help the Sheriff’s Office with what was going on.
He explained that with the size of the county, if the two or three PCSO deputies that were on duty at the time of an emergency, it would take quite a while for those deputies to respond to the scene.
“It would take time to get there and if we have a mutual aid agreement that would allow Circleville Police officers to take action and be legally covered while doing so. This is the same for South Bloomfield and Commercial Point and Ashville and New Holland,” Hafey explained. “There’s a lot of miles to cover in Pickaway County and with this mutual aid agreement, it would help the Sheriff’s Office cover these miles in emergencies.”
Hafey said he believes in full transparency and if a law enforcement officer is not doing their job correctly or doing something outside of their authority, he fully plans on holding them accountable for their actions.
“We’re no better than anyone else, any other citizen and we’re held to higher standards, and I don’t believe in hiding anything,” he said.
Hafey has an associate’s degree in law enforcement technology from Ohio University-Lancaster. He is the board secretary for Foundations4Youth, a non-profit community center for children; and a board member of Haven House, a domestic violence and homeless shelter.
In 2018 he was awarded the Patriot Award; and Circleville Mayor Don McIlroy recognized Hafey’s involvement in local groups, and declared June 13, 2018 as Matthew Hafey Day. Just recently, the Department honored Hafey with the lifesaving award for saving the life of a ninth grade student, Isabella Goff, when she collapsed at a high school dance in October.
He was also one of five recognized for their efforts in combatting operation of a motor vehicle under the influence, and in 2014, he received the Community Award.
Hafey started his law enforcement career as a dispatcher and jailer and over the years moved up in rank to the position of Sergeant. He told The Circleville Herald that he is anxious to get started with his campaign, and is hoping for a big win in next year’s November election.
In speaking with the current Sheriff Radcliff, he said it’s always good to have competition. He also noted that this would not be the first time he’s faced off with someone for Pickaway County Sheriff — Jason Lawless campaigned twice against Sheriff Radcliff, but lost.
“We’ve had competition before,” Radcliff said, speaking of the long line of sheriffs in his family. “The reason we’re here is because the citizens felt we’re doing a great job and they continued to elect us.”
The Sheriff is currently serving his second term and has already announced his candidacy for 2020 as well.
“I’m not worried about competition,” he added. “I’ll continue to do the job I’ve been elected to do as long as necessary. A public official is only as good as the staff that surrounds them and I have a great staff. We’re here to serve the people to the best of our abilities.”
According to the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office website, Charles Radcliff served as Sheriff from 1931 to 1961; Dwight Radcliff served from 1965 to 2013; and Robert Radcliff has served the county since 2013. It is reported that Dwight Radcliff holds the title for the longest-serving sheriff in the country.
As we approach the 2020 election, profile articles will appear in The Circleville Herald on the candidates.