Fowler, Crawford to run for Sheriff

OSCEOLA COUNTY – With eight days left to file for a spot on the ballot for county primary elections in August, two candidates have already filed to lead the county’s law enforcement team for the next four years.

Incumbent Sheriff, Jim Crawford, and Hersey resident David Fowler, both running as Republicans, will vie for the position of Osceola County Sheriff.

Crawford, who seeks his fourth term as sheriff, said his experience and success in the office qualifies him for re-election.

“I am by far the most experienced candidate for this position, having worked at the sheriff’s office for 25 years and proudly serving as sheriff for the past 12 years,” Crawford said. “My record as sheriff speaks for itself.”

He highlighted his work with the department’s budget during turbulent economic times, seeking alternate revenue sources to make up for loss of funding while maintaining 24-hour road patrol.

“Our office is running well and we’ve worked hard to keep our budget stable,” Crawford said. “Where most sheriff’s departments are struggling to keep people on the road, we’ve maintained a budget with which we haven’t had to lay anybody off.”

Fowler, a former Osceola County undersheriff believes he is the man to take over the sheriff’s office due to a list of issues he sees within the department.

“I see the Osceola County Sheriff’s office as a broken system and I firmly believe I can fix that,” Fowler said.

He has 33 years of experience as a police officer in Michigan, serving as a chief of police in Walkerville and as Crawford’s undersheriff. Fowler currently serves as the Lake County 911 Director.

“I can bring experience to the office and thereby decisions that get made from the mundane to a life and death decision will be made based on experience and training,” Fowler said. “When a person is making those decisions, he should have that experience.”

He points to problems he sees within the current sheriff’s department today, such as the elimination of the positions of lieutenant, full-time detective and a SWAT team within the department, and poor communication with the county prosecutor, among other things.

“I believe that there absolutely has to be a harmonious relationship between the sheriff and the prosecuting attorney,” Fowler said, on his campaign website. “As sheriff, I will immediately assign a liaison person to work directly with the prosecutor and their office.”

Crawford said his relationship has improved with the prosecutor over the past four years.

“I get along well with the prosecutor,” Crawford said. “Nothing is perfect. We’re going to disagree on cases, we’re going to agree on cases, but we don’t have a problem.”

Both running in the same party, either Fowler or Crawford will be eliminated from the ballot after the August primary. Candidates without a political affiliation have until July 19 to file for the November election.

If no other candidates file for the race, the primary election will decide who will take the seat of sheriff of Osceola County for the next four years.