County Commissioners Say They'll Help Deputy Fired For Running Against Sheriff
Springfield, SD – A little more than five months ago, Bon Homme County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Maggs announced his candidacy for sheriff. Now the newly-elected sheriff has been fired from his job as a deputy.
One minute after the polls closed on the Republican primary on Tuesday night, his opponent and boss, Sheriff Lenny Gramkow, terminated his employment with the sheriff’s department.
Despite the excitement of having won the election, former-Deputy Maggs was very concerned because he has a family that includes four small children whom he needs to support and cover with health insurance between now and when he takes office on Jan. 1, 2019.
On Thursday, the newly-unemployed soon-to-be sheriff met with some of the Bon Homme County commissioners to talk about the dilemma caused by his firing.
“What happens now is I’ve just met with the county commissioners, and they have scheduled a special meeting for next Thursday to sit down and discuss options,” he told Blue Lives Matter.
He said Commissioner Duane Bachmann told him not to worry, and that they would figure something out.
“No one said a whole lot in that meeting other than ‘not to worry, we’re going to take care of things and things will work out,’” the five-year veteran of the sheriff’s department said.
“I have full faith in our county commissioners that they’ll make sure my family is taken care of and not left hanging,” Sheriff-Elect Maggs told Blue Lives Matter.
“The only concern I had was the health insurance for my family,” he said. “We’re salaried so insurance and paycheck go through June – and the commissioners have given me the feeling and optimism that it will all be worked out and the insurance won’t have a lapse on it. Whether it’s going to the highway department and working in another capacity til I take office, or something.”
Despite the fact it’s a right-to-work department, he said he felt his firing was unfair.
“I felt I was wrongfully terminated… It’s very obvious that the only reason I was terminated was because I ran against him,” former-Deputy Maggs said.
He said things have been stressful in the three-man department since he decided to challenge his boss for his job.
“[The sheriff] actually didn’t fire me after knowing that he had lost. He actually fired me one minute after the polls closed. And we still didn’t know for more than two and a half hours whether I’d won,” former-Deputy Maggs said.
He said he was pretty sure the sheriff was going to fire him for running against him no matter what the outcome of the race.
“I think that was his thing – it didn’t matter if he won or lost, he just didn’t want me to work there anymore,” Sheriff-Elect Maggs said. “In a way, I understand. I obviously don’t want to work for him anymore or I wouldn’t have run against him. But I don’t think that had he won, anything would be different than it is right now.”
Bon Homme County has a little more than 7,000 residents, and includes five cities. Four of the cities have their own police departments.
“Throughout the campaign, I had the support of all the officers in the county, Sheriff-Elect Maggs said. Neither he nor the current sheriff attempted to involve the one other Bon Homme County deputy in their race, he said.
He credited his landslide victory – 878 to 331 – in the Republication primary to a shoe-leather campaign.
“Every time I had a free chance, I’d go out and just go from one door to the next, talking to the people and hearing their concerns. Hearing what they wanted and expected out of the sheriff’s office. And getting my message out to them,” the former deputy said.
When he takes office at 31 years of age in January, Sheriff-Elect Maggs will be the youngest sheriff in South Dakota, he told Blue Lives Matter. He’s running unopposed in the November general election so his success is granted at this point.
He and his wife Blair live in Springfield, and have four tiny children.