Hillsdale Justice Project Co-founder Jon Rutan is running for sheriff in the 2020 Election. | Facebook

Hillsdale Justice Project co-founder Jon Rutan is running his third cam­paign for Hillsdale County Sheriff. Mean­while, Hillsdale County Sheriff Timothy Parker is not filing for reelection. 

Rutan, though not in law enforcement, said he is extremely involved in the com­munity both through the Hillsdale Justice Project and the work he does helping those who have found them­selves caught up in the justice system. 

Two of his main cam­paign issues are trans­parency and his ded­i­cation to “protect your God-given, con­sti­tu­tionally pro­tected rights.”

If elected, Rutan said he plans to install a citizen advisory council. This council will be made up of one person from each of the 18 town­ships within the county, who will each vol­unteer for one year. Every three months, one class of vol­un­teers will leave and a new class will take up the mantle. This ensures that 25% of the people will be new every three months in order to avoid fac­tions, Rutan said. 

“Let’s say you have a com­plaint against the deputy,” Rutan said. “Now, you’re not going to a closed agency. You’re going to your neighbor. That person then will go get two other people on that board from two other town­ships and they will come into the sheriff’s office and they will bring the com­plaint.” 

Rutan cited Lord John Dalberg-Acton and the Founding Fathers to explain how account­ability pre­vents man’s temp­tation to abuse power. 

“You have to put checks and bal­ances in place, which the Founding Fathers under­stood,” he said.  

Rutan has a criminal justice back­ground. He worked for the Michigan Department of Cor­rec­tions for eight years, worked as a field training officer and weapons trainer, took criminal justice classes at Jackson Com­munity College, and has his cor­rec­tions cer­tificate. Despite not having any law enforcement back­ground, Rutan said the sheriff’s role is not tra­di­tionally meant to enforce the law. 

“There is a mis­con­ception that the sheriff should be a law enforcement officer. That’s a com­pletely and totally mis­con­ceived notion. Going all the way back into ancient history, the sheriff, or the ‘shire rief,’ was sup­posed to be a man of good standing and good moral char­acter that was the pro­tector of the people in the shire,” Rutan said. 

According to Rutan, the sheriff is “an admin­is­trative position, not a law enforcement position,” which is why the “under­sh­eriff must be a qual­ified police officer.”

Rutan said the sheriff should be a man of good moral char­acter who is com­mitted to pro­tecting the rights of res­i­dents in his com­munity. 

Rutan’s cam­paign manager, Jon Smith, said Rutan is the best suited for the job because of his record, involvement in the com­munity, and knowledge of the Con­sti­tution.  

“He’s a squeaky clean guy. Jon Rutan spends 30 to 40 hours a week helping the com­munity,” Smith said. 

Smith said that Rutan knows the words and the prin­ciples of the Con­sti­tution.

“He knows the Con­sti­tution like he knows the back of his hands,” he said. “He knows the Con­sti­tution and the prin­ciples more than anyone in the com­munity and the majority of the people in the college. We have judges that call him for con­sti­tu­tional advice.”