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The 2022 midterm elections are the first of the Biden era. They're also the first since the 2020 census, which means there are new congressional districts. There are U.S. Senate races in the Carolinas as well, along with many state and local races.

McFadden wins the race for Mecklenburg County sheriff

Sarah Delia
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden is seen talking to members of the Jail Support group in 2020 during nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd by police.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden held on to his seat Tuesday, receiving 51% of the vote in the Democratic primary. His challengers, Gina Hicks and Marquis Robinson, both veterans of the sheriff’s office, made jail safety the main issue in their campaigns. Hicks received 38% of the vote and Robinson 10%. There is no Republican primary.

It was one of the most fiery campaigns on the ballot, with Hicks and Robinson saying McFadden is to blame for so many staff members leaving the sheriff’s office. They say staff feels unsafe and undervalued. McFadden says that all jails struggle with safety and that the sheriff’s office was one of many organizations to feel the effect of the Great Resignation.

A state inspector told the sheriff’s office in December 2021 that staffing shortages were posing “an imminent threat" to the safety of inmates and detention staff. He said the jail needed to transfer inmates to get the population down to 1,000.

McFadden took office in 2018 after working with CMPD for more than 35 years, most of that time as a homicide detective. He quickly got rid of the 287(g) program, which allowed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to identify and take into custody Mecklenburg County inmates who were found to be in the country illegally. He also ended solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-olds, brought back in-person visits and took steps to expand law enforcement beyond the traditional role of the sheriff’s office via traffic enforcement and more community engagement.

McFadden made changes to “create humanity” in the main jail uptown. He eased restrictions in the Disciplinary Detention Unit, which is similar to solitary confinement, to allow inmates to keep commissary items and make phone calls and disbanded units to search for weapons and control violent inmates. He said one of those units violated “rules and regulations” against a female inmate. Hicks and Robinson said that ended up making the jail a more violent place. Sheriff’s office data show assaults on officers and among inmates increased at the main jail from 106 in the 2018 fiscal year to 348 last year.

McFadden says there have been no violent assaults since November. Incident reports show since then inmates have punched officers and hit them with handcuffs. He’s brought in security guards from an outside company to help ease staffing gaps and created another team to do searches and deal with violent inmates.

See more results from the May 17 North Carolina primary here.

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Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.