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Two veteran employees run to become sheriff in the first contested race in more than a decade.

COURTESY PHOTOS: MCSO - Multnomah County Undersheriff Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell is running against Capt. Derrick Peterson in the election to be sheriff. Two veteran Multnomah County Sheriff's Office employees are now running to replace retiring Sheriff Mike Reese. It is now the first contested race for sheriff in more than a decade and pits the first female second-in-command against the first Black male candidate.

PMG GRAPHIC - Political news and tidbitsMultnomah County Undersheriff Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell announced her candidacy on Thursday, Sept. 9. She has 25 years of experience in the office and was appointed undersheriff in Aug. 21.

"I am running for sheriff because I believe there is more we must do to make our communities safer and welcoming for all," Morrisey O'Donnell said in a statement Sept. 9. "We face very serious challenges in our communities that we must come together to solve. Addressing the public health crises of gun violence, drug addiction, mental illness and homelessness requires a collaborative approach that gives the community a voice, empowers trained behavioral health experts, service providers and outreach workers to be part of the solution."

The next day, Multnomah County sheriff Capt. Derrick Peterson announced he is running to succeed Reese. Peterson is a 34-year veteran of the office and president of the local chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

"I grew up in North Portland and now I am seeing hundreds of young people impacted by our other pandemic, gun violence. As the first Black man running for Sheriff I feel an urgency to work with the community to find a path forward for criminal justice reform, gun violence and the multitude of crises impacting our community. Reform will only take place if we have a culture shift in leadership and better align the values of law enforcement with the people of Multnomah County. We must restore public trust and a sense of safety for every person we are in service of from the neighborhoods to the schools to the courts."

Reese was appointed to the post in 2016 after two-term Sheriff Dan Staton resigned. Two years later, Reese was elected for a four-year term in the May 2018 primary election with over 96% of the vote. Reese cannot run again because the county rules prohibit elected officials from serving more than eight in any 12 years.

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