ELIZABETHTOWN - Richard Cutting is the new sheriff of Essex County.
Cutting was appointed to the position under the authority of Judge Richard B. Meyer Aug. 6 after resigning from his post as undersheriff.
"County law provides for the appointment of the sheriff if there is no sheriff or undersheriff," Cutting explained, noting he had resigned in order to prepare to run for sheriff in the upcoming November election.
The change is mostly nominal for Cutting, who, as undersheriff, would have performed the duties of sheriff until someone was appointed or elected to the position.
Cutting's appointment was welcomed by county supervisors during committee meetings Aug. 9, when Cutting also formally stated his intentions to run for sheriff in November.
"I've been here for 33 years," Cutting said, noting how he started as a deputy and moved up through the ranks. "We have a tremendous organization here of dedicated professionals. Looking at that, I'd like to stay on and lead this organization and keep it going forward for another term.
Cutting, 55, has been undersheriff for the past two years, prior to which he spent 10 years as jail administrator, working closely under sheriff Henry Hommes, who passed away July 30.
"That was a tragic loss," said Cutting. "He was a strong leader that took us a long way."
Cutting lauded Hommes for his leadership in construction of the new Public Safety building after the state forced the county to build a new jail. He noted how, by boarding federal inmates and inmates from other counties at the new facility, the sheriff's office has turned an expense into a major source of revenue and added more jobs for Essex County residents.
"I think [sheriff Hommes] spearheaded a tremendous project for Essex County," said Cutting. "I'm just honored to be in a place where I can try to continue that."
Candidates for the general election have until Aug. 17 to file their petitions as an independent. Each major party may also select a candidate by committee.