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.”