News & Features, November 2018, Top story

Saint Augustine’s alumnus vying to become Wake County Sheriff

Until a couple of years ago, Gerald Baker was a student at Saint Augustine’s University. Now he wants to be Wake County Sheriff.

Baker graduated in 2014 from Saint Augustine’s Extended Studies Program. He already had a lot of career experience when he attended Saint Augustine’s. He had worked for the sheriff’s office for more than 20 years at the time he attended SAU.

But he credits the university with giving his career a boost.

“I love Saint Augustine’s University,” Baker said in a video he made to promote SAU. “I started my education here years ago. My experience as an Extended Studies student was great. It was challenging and it allowed me to apply life’s lessons and things I have learned in the career that I was in and to bring those things together and that was really, really, really beneficial.”

Baker majored in organizational management and was glad to finally get his degree. “To have that degree takes confidence in yourself to another level,” he said. “Having that education to go with the training and skills that I have obtained in the field that I was in was just great. It was tremendous.”

Baker, a Democrat, is running against the Republican incumbent Donnie Harrison. Baker joined the joined the North Carolina State Highway Patrol at age 21 and served in the patrol, assigned to Wake County, for 26 years.

Baker’s website lists his campaign’s goal as changing the direction of the sheriff’s office. “It’s about “restoring its integrity, its values, and, restoring and maintaining its standards. This election is about electing a leader who is equally concerned and focused on fighting crime, as well as, crime prevention, organizational integrity and accountability, community outreach and involvement, and embracing diversity. It is about electing a leader who will be a Sheriff for all people.”

A major issue in the campaign is the 287(g) program, which allows state and local law enforcement agencies to partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain people living in the country illegally. The Wake County Sheriff’s Office is one of six in North Carolina that participates in 287(g). Baker wants to end the program because he thinks it is unfair to immigrants, but Harrison ants to maintaining it.

Baker’s chances are seen as tough against a well funded incumbent, but he does have has some key support including an endorsement from the Indy newspaper. But Baker believes he is “better qualified” than his opponent and hopes to pull an upset.

UPDATE: Gerald Baker pulled an upset victory over incumbent Sheriff Donnie Harrison on Nov. 6 and is now Wake County Sheriff.