U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorsed Lynn Police Chief and candidate for Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger on Monday in Lawrence.
By Leah Dearborn
PEABODY— Essex County Sheriff candidate and Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger was up bright and early Monday morning for a Democratic breakfast at the Boston Marriott Peabody.
Many of Coppinger’s supporters in local and state government were at the breakfast, which was one of the candidate’s final speaking engagements before the Nov. 8 general election to replace retiring Sheriff Frank Cousins.
Later in the day, Coppinger met up with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) in Lawrence at an event promoting early voting in Massachusetts.
“Kevin is a thoughtful and compassionate leader with an exemplary record of public service,” Warren said. “His professionalism and experience will serve Essex County well. I am pleased to support Kevin Coppinger for sheriff.”
During the breakfast in Peabody, U.S. Rep Seth Moulton (D-Mass) spoke to Coppinger’s qualifications on handling the opiate addiction crisis in Essex County.
“We need leadership that’s willing to tackle this crisis. Kevin’s leadership in Lynn is exemplary of the leadership he will provide as sheriff,” said Moulton.
State Attorney General Maura Healey said she first met Coppinger during her own campaign three years ago. She called attention to his work on the streets of Lynn and his efforts to reduce recidivism.
Coppinger spoke last and acknowledged that he had some great opponents during the race.
He also got in a jab at his opponents, saying those who work behind the walls in corrections don’t have the experience of seeing everything that happens out on the streets.
When asked about her experience in corrections via a phone call later in the day, Republican primary winner Anne Manning-Martin stood behind her career, which includes 13 years working for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and a management position with the state Department of Corrections.
“I have the utmost respect for everyone in law enforcement but police work and corrections are apples to oranges … I wouldn’t think for a minute that I could walk into a police department and run it,” Manning-Martin said.
Manning-Martin added she is the only candidate with specialized corrections experience.
“There are so many moving parts in corrections,” she said. “This has been my career for 25 years. This is not what I’m retiring to.”
During his speech at the breakfast, Coppinger stressed the necessity of creating connections within the community, calling the sheriff’s office an island that needs to come back to the mainland. He named prevention, intervention and reentry programs as three main elements in need of attention.
Coppinger acknowledged that there are people in the jail system suffering from mental illness or addiction who probably don’t belong there and said that the department needs to do a better job of re-integrating those individuals with the rest of society.
“I’m going to push and push and push right up until November eighth,” said Coppinger. “I know I can make a difference as Essex County Sheriff.”
Mark Archer and Kevin Leach of Manchester-by-the-Sea are both running as independent candidates.
When contacted for his commentary on the race, Archer voiced his opinion that Coppinger is running a campaign for reasons related to financial gain. He said that his own work as an attorney and 20 years with the Massachusetts State Police has given him experience in every aspect of law enforcement.
“It would be great if I succeed and get to affect change in a department sorely lacking in transparency,” said Archer when asked if he’s looking forward to the end of the race. “But otherwise it will be nice to get on with the rest of life.”