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In Strafford County, Brave Elected First Black Sheriff in State History

Photo of Mark Brave

Mark Brave, who ran on a platform of a more community-focused approach to law enforcement, has won the election for Strafford County Sheriff, becoming the first known Black person in state history to hold the position of sheriff.

Brave, a Democrat from Dover, defeated Paul Callaghan, a Republican from Rochester. Both men currently serve as lieutenants in the Strafford County Sheriff’s Office.

In a statement, Brave said he was humbled by the support he received. 

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet that I will be the first Black Sheriff in NH’s history,” he wrote. “It’s something I feel should have happened a long time ago, but I’m honored that I will be the person to pave the way. And I will be a law enforcement leader for all residents of Strafford County regardless of their party affiliation.”

Brave said he received a phone call from Callaghan conceding the race Tuesday evening.

“We ran a clean race and we showed you can still get your point across in a respectable manner without any mud slinging,” said Brave.

Brave, 35, has worked in law enforcement for more than a decade. He ran on a campaign of more community involvement, including regular public meetings. He also criticized the “old guard” approach to policing, which he said included limiting public access to information. 

Callaghan, who is white, has worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years, including serving as a police chief. He campaigned in support of a series of reforms recommended by a statewide commission into police accountability, including a greater focus on de-escalation techniques and the use of body cameras by all officers.

County sheriffs in the state are in charge of court security, transporting inmates and serving court papers, while the High Sheriff of each county provides oversight of the office’s finances.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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