The three Republican candidates for county sheriff answered questions in front of county party members Friday night during a 36-minute forum at the Madison County High School theater.
Kip Thomas, Larry Smith and John Dove are all seeking the Republican nomination.
More harmonious than the congressional forum it followed, the sheriff’s forum covered topics ranging from school resources officers to drugs to illegal aliens.
Thomas, a former Marine, has worked most of his career in law enforcement with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, leaving a year ago “in good standing,” he said, with the rank of sergeant.
Thomas said it’s been his goal to become sheriff and he plans to surround himself with experts in their field and delegate powers.
“If any man says he can do this job by himself, he is wrong,” Thomas said. “My sheriff’s office will run smoothly and successfully due to those working with me to take our sheriff’s office in a positive direction in the future.”
Smith, who currently works for the Athens Clarke County police, is a native of Madison County who has 35 years of law enforcement experience, serving in all divisions.
He’s seeking the sheriff’s office “to attack crime in all ways very aggressively.”
Smith wants to implement community meetings and neighborhood watches while adding that “I have several major advanced schools to help improve y’alls department,” Smith said.
By contrast, Dove’s opening remarks were more emotionally charged, saying that the sheriff’s race was divisive and that people have turned their back on him.
“Just a few weeks ago, I met a man that’s sitting here that I’ve known for 20 years,” Dove said. “Our department now is fortunate to have him. But because I’m running for his boss, he don’t want to shake my hand.”
Dove said he seeks to bring change to Madison County and said the county needs to come together as one.
“We’re all here for one reason, we’re here for change,” Dove said. “That’s what everybody preaches.”
Candidates were asked 10 questions, though Dove replied “no comment” to two of them.
— See this week’s print edition for more coverage.