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Catch up with sheriff candidates
Special election to be in November
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Voters cast ballots Tuesday in the state primary, but Liberty County sheriff candidates’ campaigns are just heating up ahead of the Nov. 2 special election.
Some candidates still are in the planning stages. Other have been seen mingling with the public at community events in an effort to drum up voter support.
Candidate Jimmie Jones said things are going well. He said he’s planning a few stumping events for the near future.
Jerald Burgess has launched his website and said his campaign is going great.
The former military police officer and tank platoon sergeant and current private pilot said he will contact registered voters and area residents who aren’t yet registered.
“But right now, everything is going well,” Burgess said. “I’m planning on doing at least two or three town hall meetings within all of the sub-communities like Gum Branch, Riceboro, Fleming, Flemington and all the communities in Liberty County.”
Burgess said if elected, he will work with the Liberty County Board of Education to reach out to youth. He also wants to implement a program to keep senior citizens safe.
Candidate Quinton “Red” O’Neal said he is developing his campaign and website, and talking to area residents.
“I’ve been out and around quite a bit,” he said. “I’ve been all over Liberty County.”
Warren Waye said he is doing things differently this time around. Waye ran against then-incumbent Sheriff J. Don Martin in 2008. During that campaign, Waye canvassed the area with his campaign committee.
“I’ll canvass the area myself,” he said. “I’m going to be knocking on doors myself. It’s a bit more one-on-one this time.”
He thinks going door-to-door will encourage voters to speak freely and get to know him better.
“To date, it is going well,” he said. “I’ve been in the Riceboro and Holmestown communities, a little bit around Hinesville and Midway and I have not made it to Gum Branch yet, but I will be reaching all the communities in time.”
He said he is focused on re-entry programs for inmates and developing a more community-oriented police department that includes public input.
“It would actually be a citizens program and they would be involved in what goes on in the department as far as budget items and when we conduct interviews for jobs,” Waye said.
Last weekend, candidates Mark Floyd, Bobby Ryon and Steve Sikes campaigned at LibertyFest.
Floyd said he has always wanted to serve the public as sheriff. He said his focus is on protecting children and the people of Liberty County.
“All I want to do is protect the citizens and the communities,” he said. “I want to focus more on the neighborhoods and the robberies that have been taking place because there is a lot of that going on, but the average person doesn’t know about it.”
He said he would implement programs to encourage community members to take better care of their neighborhoods and each other.
“Folks should be paying attention to who is coming into and leaving their neighborhoods and keep and eye out for each other,” he said.
Floyd said LibertyFest was the perfect place to meet voters and listen to their concerns.
“We are out here talking to people and telling them about my campaign and who I am and what I hope to do,” he said. “It’s a way to get in touch with the folks.”
He said he works hard during the day at his full-time job but is also spending a lot of time on his campaign. The candidate said he’ll do whatever he can to serve the community if elected.
Ryon and Sikes set up booths a few yards away from each other and greeted people throughout the two-day LibertyFest.
They share a history when it comes to the sheriff’s race.
“In 1971, Mr. Bill Phillips was the sheriff and he died in office,” Ryon said. “We had to have a special election just like this and my father (Bob Ryon) actually ran against Steve Sikes’ father (Robert V. Sikes). The funny thing is, they grew up right across the street from each other, right here off Highway 84, and Stevie and I grew up across the street from each other.”
Ryon said he’s received a lot of positive feedback from the community. He said LibertyFest let him meet with as many people as possible in a community setting.
Ryon said voters today have a vested interest in how they cast their votes and he feels it’s important to listen to their concerns.
He said the sheriff’s office needs to become reacquainted with the community and strengthen their bond.
“We have to become more customer friendly,” he said. “And the people in the community are our customers. I worked in customer service for 30 years.”
Ryon said forming a trusting bond with residents will make it more conducive to solving crimes.
“They have to trust you in order to give you information,” he said. “And that information is huge when it comes to solving these crimes. I want to be involved enough that the staff knows that I’m there to help them do whatever it is we need to do to protect the citizens of Liberty County.”
Sikes agreed with Ryon that LibertyFest was a good spot to meet voters. “I think it is the duty of any potential candidate or elected official to be out here. This is huge for the community,” he said.
Sikes said he thinks his campaign is right where it needs to be and he’s covered a lot of territory.
“But I plan to cover a lot more before Nov. 2,” he said.
Sikes said it’s always been important for him to give freely. Next week, Sikes and his ministerial group, John 3:16 Ministries, are headed to Central America to check on children an orphanage he tends to from time to time. Sikes said he has made the trip around 30 times.
“We are trying to establish a medical clinic and we have an ongoing feeding program we go and check on. It’s time to go back and check to see how the people are doing,” he said.
He said the group has built churches there and, as a member of the advisory and administrative board, it’s Sikes’ responsibility to see how things are going.
“It’s a small group and we try and make a difference in people’s lives,” Sikes said. “And I feel like it’s time to make a difference right here as well.”
He said if elected, he would dedicate himself to the community that supported his father and grandfather during their tenures as sheriff.
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