Gerald Baker: New Blood

In Buzz, December 2018 / January 2019by Jane Porter

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Was it Gerald Baker’s opposition to ICE in a county that values the contributions of its immigrant community, or was he the beneficiary of a particularly good night for Democrats in Wake? We may never know the answer to that question, but, despite the low-profile campaign Baker ran, the Raleigh native unseated Wake County’s long-serving Sheriff Donnie Harrison on Election Night in November, taking 54.5 percent of the vote in an upset. Following 28 years of service in the sheriff’s department, he retired as a sergeant last May. Baker holds a degree in organizational management from St. Augustine’s and graduated from NC State’s Administrative Officer’s Management program. There is no doubt Baker has the experience and qualifications needed to take on his new role, but how will his tenure helming the department contrast with Harrison’s? For starters, Baker has promised to end Wake County’s involvement with the federal 287(g) program, a partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that transfers undocumented people arrested locally into federal custody. He has also promised to build trust with the public, to instill more transparency in the department and to demand more accountability from sheriff’s deputies. There’s a new sheriff in town, as the saying goes, and in a county that is growing explosively, Baker has got his work cut out for him.

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