OWLS HEAD – There were two nominations. One to the governor to nominate a Knox County Sheriff for the temporary vacancy. The second to the Secretary of State to place the political party’s candidate on the November ballot.
Paperwork, signatures, background checks. They all took time, yet no time has been available. A month ago, then-Chief Deputy Patrick Polky was years away from thinking about running for sheriff.
“I’ve been very operationally minded, not very politically minded,” he said. “And maybe more so because we had kind of an idea of succession planning with Tim at the helm.”
The plan was to form Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll to campaign uncontested this year, work the helm for another four or eight years. Then, and only then, would Polky consider his own advancement.
The fates had different ideas.
On Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, Polky pledged an oath of office as Sheriff of Knox County. He has been unofficially covering the duties for the previous few weeks while Carroll transitions out of the position after accepting Rockland Police Department hiring committee’s offer to be Rockland’s next chief.
Carroll was among the coworkers and family who witnessed the brief Monday morning ceremony, in a garage on the Knox Regional Airport campus, as Heidi Norweg, Dedimus Justice and Knox County jail worker, recited to Polky the pledge held by Maine sheriffs. County Commissioners Dorothy Meriwether and Sharyn Pohlman also witnessed the exchanging of Polky’s uniform pins conducted by Polky’s wife, Stephanie.
Because sheriffs are elected officials, Polky’s August 1 ceremony recognizes the July 28 appointment by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills to fill the role for the four months between now and November. At this point, Polky is expected to run unchallenged in November to officially become Maine’s 23rd sheriff of Knox County.
“I was surprised, definitely,” he said. “I didn’t realize the amount of support I would have [from the Democratic party].
But now Polky must play catchup in an election year when candidates usually start generating their support systems in April. Now, he balances both his previous job title and the new one while continuing to consider options for a new running mate, aka Chief Deputy.
As the running mate to the previous campaign, Polky has held the Chief Deputy position since 2019. Along with his regular duties, he settled into side projects, which have paved the way to his desires for the future.
Going forward, Polky hopes that the Knox County Recovery Collaborative network of will become more public about its resources, whether it’s for guidance for someone who wants to help, or for links for someone who is suffering a little bit.
This future goal is based on the side projects already in motion:
• He works with Waldo County’s Jason Trundy regarding Restorative Justice and similar programs.
• He dedicates time to Knox County Recovery Collaborative, a joint venture created by Carroll and Polky as their way of uniting resources, skill sets, ideas, and partners in Knox County.
-”One of the things that I personally have been pushing for in the last year or so is the mental health aspect,” he said.
A lot of people are suffering from some form of mental health crisis, whether it’s true chemical imbalance with a disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder; whether it’s fatigue from Covid and not being able to socialize, or even the mental health response to how society has changed since the pandemic began.
“To me, it’s a very big problem, but I don’t think it’s unachievable,” he said. “I think a lot of the work we’ve been doing with substance use really mirrors that mental health in that you’ve got to identify the problem and work with the causality of it, and then work with them on building coping skills, being resilient. Sometimes maybe it’s just being in a room with other people of similar issues, just having the ability to talk with people going through the same experiences.”
Reach Sarah Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org