Sgt. Craig Kontra of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office filed for the county’s elected sheriff position last week following a close but unsuccessful run in 2014.
Originally from Munhall, Pa., Kontra was expected to immediately begin working at the steel mill upon graduating from high school. He worked there for five years as an apprentice, during which time he said the industry was declining and he was laid off.
After Kontra returned to school, his father located an advertisement in the Pittsburgh Press for a job position with the Charles County Detention Center. In 1984, Kontra made the move to Maryland and began working with the detention center.
“I spent a year and a half in the Charles County Detention Center. I got two offers. I got an offer with the D.C. police and the North Beach Police Department. At this point, you had to live in D.C. [to work for the police department]. I’m a country boy. I couldn’t live in the city, so I took the North Beach job,” Kontra said.
Kontra worked in North Beach for two years before the department disbanded and he was hired at the Riverdale Police Department. He worked there for several months before he was contacted by the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office — which he was applying for the whole time — to let him know he was accepted. In February 1988, Kontra began his career with the sheriff’s office.
Over his years working with the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, Kontra said he has served in every bureau, from road patrol to working with the Southern Maryland Narcotic Task Force. His longest stretch in one department was with the warrant division from 1997 to 2015. He also noted he has managed the sheriff’s office’s $500,000 child support budget.
Kontra said he has been recognized at the state level and locally for various awards. He said he can only recall one other Calvert officer besides himself who received deputy of the year three times.
“I’ve seen sheriffs come. I’ve seen sheriffs go. I’ve seen what the people want and what the department needs,” Kontra explained, adding he ran for sheriff in 2014 and lost by 625 votes. “All through my career I’ve enjoyed helping people out. I love trying to find solutions to everybody’s problem. I think I can do that with the communities, which we need to get back into.”
Indicating there are many changes that need to be made in the sheriff’s office to make it more efficient, Kontra said this has been a dream of his for the last 10 or 11 years. He referred to the opioid epidemic as the biggest problem in the county and said it will be his main priority, if elected. “We have people dying and people overdosing. We can’t arrest ourself out of this situation. We have to work with the people. We have to work with the rehabs. We have to work with counselors,” he said, describing the county’s drug court as an excellent tool.
Kontra said he is the best candidate for sheriff because his training and experience at the sheriff’s office, along with his problem-solving skills.
“One of the sayings I tell everybody is a year before election you watch, everything gets done. Everything gets done. But I guarantee you every year for me is going to be an election year. Things will get done,” Kontra said.
Kontra, who ran as a Democrat in the 2014 election, is now running as a Republican. After graduating from high school, Kontra said his father told him he was a Democrat and he followed suit. Since getting more involved in the political field, Kontra said he sees his ideologies align more closely with the Republican Party.
Sheriff Mike Evans (R) and Kinsey Weems have also formally filed with the election board for Calvert County sheriff in the 2018 election.