Johnson says virtual town halls and social media will define his campaign for sheriff

Greg Johnson, now the Democratic candidate for Portage County sheriff, speaks with LuAnne Kiefer of Kent at a League of Women Voters town hall in February. Carter Eugene Adams/ThePortager

Portage County elections

Johnson says virtual town halls and social media will define his campaign for sheriff

An interview with Greg Johnson, Democratic candidate for Portage County sheriff

Voters narrowed the crowded Democratic primary race for Portage County sheriff to one candidate Tuesday. Greg Johnson, a 24-year veteran of the Portage County Sheriff’s Office, won the contest with a little over 5,000 votes.

Johnson retired from his position as chief detective in 2019 to run for sheriff.

He says his campaign is for an open and transparent administration, citing problems with the department during the time he belonged to it. Since last year the FBI and Lake County Sheriff’s Office have been investigating allegations from former Portage County inmates of prisoner abuse and neglect.

“I don’t condone what was going on there. One of the reasons I retired was to be able to get myself in a position where I could go back to address those issues,” Johnson said. “So, I’m not blind to the fact that there are some things that need to be looked into and definitely be corrected.”

In November he will face Bruce D. Zuchowski, a sergeant in the Ohio State Highway Patrol who lives in Diamond. Zuchowski is the only Republican to file petitions to be on the ballot, according to the Portage County Board of Elections website. Sheriff David Doak is not pursuing reelection.

The next step for Johnson, who has been running what he called a grassroots campaign, is figuring out how to run a general election campaign during a pandemic. Johnson plans to hold virtual town halls and use social media to stay connected with voters.

“This is all a new area, so I think we’re going to be learning on the fly the best way to go about it … because you don’t want to create a situation that you’re going to put anybody at any kind of health risk,” Johnson said.

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