Crawford County Deputy Sheriff Neil Fratus announced his resignation on Tuesday, though said he would continue to seek the office of sheriff.
According to a press release sent out by Fratus, he decided to retire due to an alleged increasingly partisan atmosphere that he said has prevented him from serving in his current role.
“Due to circumstances outside of my control, the dynamic of the office changed after the announcement of Deputy (David) Powers’ intent to run for the position of Sheriff,” Fratus said. “The change in the office dynamic from that point on escalated to a point that does not allow me to fulfill the duties of chief deputy.”
Fratus had announced his candidacy for Crawford County Sheriff on the Republican in December 2018, and ran unopposed for most of that time. Powers entered the race in March, only two months before the election.
However, Powers would go on to win the nomination, based off of unofficial tallies by Crawford County Voter Services. According to their count, Powers received 4,095 votes, only a little more than 100 ahead of Fratus’ 3,981. There were only 12 write-in votes in the race.
Fratus said that conflicts during the race led to difficulties within the sheriff’s office.
“As clear as this divide is within the current office, I believe that this poses a concern for safety while deputies are in the field,” he said. “It is clear that people struggle to separate work from political agendas.”
Fratus also alleged that current Crawford County Sheriff Nike Hoke “only (addresses) interoffice workings via letters to the editor.”
While stepping down from his job, Fratus said he would carry on with seeking the sheriff’s office.
On his official campaign Facebook page, Fratus said there are still more than 400 absentee ballots that could sway the election on the Republican side.
“I am confident that in the next week or two the will of the voters will speak for the people of this county and the process will allow that,” he said. “If the will of the voters is to see my candidacy through to November, I will fight to get back to what I have currently lost.”
However, Fratus did express regrets for the resignation from a career has has held for 13 years.
While Fratus currently has a disadvantage in the Republican race, it is possible he could receive the nomination for the Democratic ticket.
While no official candidates ran on that ballot, the Democratic race saw 1,209 write-in votes cast.
The exact distribution of those write-in votes is currently not known to The Herald.
Voter Services is in the process of tabulating the votes, and estimate that official results will be released in around two weeks.
Should Fratus win the Democratic nomination, he would face off against Powers in the general election in November.
Both men are seeking to replace Hoke, who announced he would not seek re-election last year.
Powers previously served in the Meadville City Police Department from 1990 to 2012 before joining the sheriff’s office.
Ray can be reached, by email, at email@example.com.