Although the State has yet to certify the election results from the June 9, Primary elections, according to the numbers posted on the Secretary of State’s website, it appears Liberty County will swear in a new Sheriff in January.
Challenger William Bowman edged out a win over incumbent Sheriff Steve Sikes by garnering 56.10 percent of the votes.
“Thank you to the folks who voted me in, “Bowman said. “And for the ones who didn’t, I will do my very best to earn their votes the next time.”
Bowman holds an impressive resume.
The Georgia native has lived in Liberty County for fifteen years. He is a retired Senior Noncommissioned Officer from the U.S. Army and retired Georgia State Patrol. He is still a state certified Law Enforcement Officer in good standing. He was deployed various times and earned numerous military awards including the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement medal. Bowman was twice selected as the Georgia State Patrolman of the year. Throughout his law enforcement career Bowman was recognized Governor of Georgia for outstanding public service. He was directly involved in the security of numerous dignitary visits from the President of the United States, the vice president, former presidents of the United States and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to name a few.
Now he said he is ready to serve Liberty County.
“I’m here to work for the people and make our county the very best,” he said. “Make our department something that everybody in Liberty County to be proud of.”
Bowman said he and Sheriff Sikes are ready to work together during the transition and that he has much respect for Sikes and his family.
“We have a good relationship,” Bowman said. “I have no ill-will against Sheriff Sikes, and I don’t think he has any against me. We are two men who may have different opinions, but our main goal is to make the county better.”
“I know that Will Bowman will do the right thing and be a good man for the job and I’m going to do all I can do to help him in that endeavor,” Sheriff Steve Sikes said.
Sikes said he hopes Bowman will continue many of the successful programs the department has developed over the past 10 years. He added he will work closely with Bowman to ensure a smooth transition.
Bowman said his first order of business will be to assess the entire department.
“Get everything organized and get the right people in place,” he said.
Bowman plans to reach out to the Police Chiefs of Midway, Walthourville and Hinesville and establish open lines of communications, to help every department become as effective as possible.
Bowman said he is in favor of implementing more community policing. He said he wants to bring back the Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety (C.H.A.M.P.S.) Programs to the county.
CHAMPS provides an educational program for Georgia’s youth, which provides guidance, and the skills, ability and knowledge to be safe, healthy, and happy, in preparation for a successful life.
“I want to get that back into the schools and improve communications within the schools and principals and recreation department,” Bowman said. “I don’t want kids and people to be afraid of the police when they encounter them.”
He added that he plans to host several town hall meetings to listen to the needs and wants of the people of Liberty County.
“To talk to them…break that gap of us against them,” Bowman said. “I don’t want folks to see us that way. I want everyone to feel protected and everyone treated fair. And it will be my job to get out there and make that happen.”
“I want to thank everyone who supported me for the past 10 years,” Sheriff Sikes said. “I will do everything that I can to help Bowman to make sure the department continues to improve on top of all the great things we’ve done throughout the past few years. I hold my head up high knowing I was able to be a part of serving the people and community and doing all we could to make the department and the county better. This is a great group of trained men and women. The hardest working, most dedicated, and one of the best departments in the entire state and I am proud and blessed to have been a part of it.”
Sikes was sworn in as Sheriff in December 2010 following a special election after the death of former Sheriff J. Don Martin. Upon taking his oath of office he became the third generation in his family to serve in that capacity.
Both his father, R.V. (Bobby) Sikes, and his grandfather, the late Paul E. Sikes, served as Sheriff. Paul Sikes was first elected in 1936 and served until his death in 1959. R.V. (Bobby) Sikes ran for the unexpired portion of his late father’s term and served continuously until 1969 when he chose to relinquish the office for one term. Bobby Sikes resumed his service following the election of 1972, and thereafter served continuously until 1992.
Sikes said he isn’t sure what the future holds for him, but he said he places his trust in God knowing that something extraordinary will come his way.