Knox County Democrats will likely have a contested primary in June with the announcement by Thomaston Police Officer Timothy Hoppe that he will seek the nomination for sheriff.

Hoppe of Tenants Harbor has filed his intent with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices to be a candidate for Knox County sheriff. Hoppe is running as a Democrat.

This would have him square off against incumbent Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison in a June 8 primary. Dennison, a Democrat, was elected in 2006 and said Jan. 4 that she will seek re-election.

She was the first Democrat since 1920 to serve as sheriff in Knox County. She was also the first and remains the only woman in Maine to be elected sheriff.

Hoppe has been with the Thomaston Police Department for nine years. He cited his reasons for seeking the post.

“I believe in transparency and making people accountable,” Hoppe said.

The veteran police officer also stressed his strong belief in community policing practices.

“I’ve based my career on community policing,” he said. “If you don’t bring the community in and have the department be part of the community, you will just be chasing your tails trying to solve crimes.”

Hoppe also said one of his goals will be to institute 24-hour patrols in the county. The issue of patrols not being 24 hours a day arose during the budget deliberations in Knox County.

A third candidate has also filed an intent to seek the sheriff post in 2010. Michael Lloyd Phillips of Warren filed his intent last summer to be an unenrolled candidate.

Phillips said Thursday afternoon that he has decided instead to seek the sheriff’s post as a Republican. He said he would issue a news release on his candidacy.

None of the potential candidates have filed nomination papers. Signatures could only begin being collected Jan. 1.

The deadline for party candidates to file nomination papers to be on the June 8 primary ballot is March 15. Unenrolled candidates have until June 1 to file papers with the Maine Secretary of State’s Office. The general election is Nov. 2.

Dennison won in 2006 with a little more than 34 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Dennison, who had risen through the ranks of the sheriff’s office over 15 years, garnered 6,236 votes. She finished ahead of unenrolled candidate Todd Butler who had served with the sheriff’s office for more than 25 years and was its chief deputy. Finishing a close third was former Rockland Police Chief Alfred Ockenfels.