Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles is facing opposition from fellow Democrat Shane Middleton and Republican Tim Works this election year.
Nobles and Middleton will appear on the Democratic ballot in the May 24 general primary, while Works is unopposed on the Republican ballot. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Works in the November general election.
Middleton has been in law enforcement for 18½, 14½ of which he has served in Long County. He has also served in McIntosh and Wayne counties. Middleton holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in corrections and has studied jail administration.
He said that if elected, he would first evaluate the entire department and with the Long County Board of Commissioners to make sure the budget is suited to the department’s ever changing needs. He added that he would also evaluate personnel “based on knowledge, training and experience, not just on who you are.”
Middleton said he would like to create three zones within the county and assign a deputy to patrol each zone to reduce response times.
“And we can do that with the current amount of deputies we have working there,” he said. “And each zone that touches another zone would back each other up and, of course, they are not going to have to stay in their zone if we have a major problem. But when their call volumes are down, they would be riding in their zones.”
He said he would open more services for local tow truck businesses if elected.
“If you have the money to buy the land, get the required permits and pass the state’s certification, then you should be able to open your business and not have a monopoly like we do now,” he said.
He said that under his leadership, the Sheriff’s Office would be more proactive and open to fostering a better relationship between the county and Ludowici Police Department.
“I think without a doubt we should be able to start using the jail in Ludowici,” Middleton said. “If the federal marshals are using the city jail, why can’t Long County use the city jail?
Middleton said that would save money in the long run — money that he said could then be redistributed back to the city, which is in the center of Long County and which, in turn, would redistributed back ito the county.
“I am going to work with the mayor, and the mayor will work with me. The city and the county should be working together,” he said, adding that he also thinks the city police should be deputized as they are in Wayne and McIntosh counties and Garden City.
He said he has more experience, knowledge and training and has served Long County than his opponents.
“I know the people, and I know what it is going to take to keep them safe,” Middleton said. “And I know that you have to have honor, integrity and rapport with people in order for them to let you know the problems that are going on in the county. If they don’t trust you they aren’t going to tell you anything and crime will keep being rampant. That is how we will win over crime…the people trusting the people protecting them. I am going to be fair and will make my decisions based on the totality of circumstances not just one side.”
He also said he would make sure his deputies treat people with kindness and respect.
“Treat people with respect and be nice as long as you can. ... It is not personal, you are just doing your job. … There is no reason to be a rude officer… .as long as you are safe and the situation is in control,” Middleton said.
Craig Nobles, incumbent
Nobles first took office in January 2012 after the death of his father, former Long County Sheriff Cecil Nobles.
I have 16 years of law-enforcement experience and four years already served as a sheriff,” Craig Nobles said. “You can say all kinds of things, but people know you from what you do and who you are.”
Nobles said he is not looking for a pat on the back. He said he is simply doing the job the public has entrusted him to do.
“We’ve upheld the office of sheriff in Long County with integrity,” he said. “We do our jobs and answer calls in a timely manner and enforce the law. … They know what I’m about … based on the past four years.”
Nobles said that in the past four years, he has implemented several successful programs for the department, which has led to improvements.
He said he implemented the Project Lifesaver Program to help the elderly and autistic children within the community. He moved misdemeanor probation back to Long County, and he currently serves as the director. He assigned a deputy sheriff in the Long County Courthouse to enhance security. For young adults, he brought in the annual Prom Promise event at the Long County High School.
“This event educates our children of the dangers of drugs and alcohol,” Nobles said. “It also informs our young adults of the penalties and consequences of driving under the influence.”
Also benefiting the community, Nobles said, was starting the National Night Out initiative in Long County.
“This event is a great opportunity for citizens and law enforcement to partner up against crime,” he said adding that he hopes everyone will come out for the next one. “You get to meet your neighbors and commit to helping law enforcement reduce crime in your community. This helps strengthen neighborhood spirit and fosters community relationships between the citizens we serve.”
Nobles said he added an additional deputy as a Long County School Resource Officer and implemented the LeadsOnline program in the county.
“This program allows the citizens of Long County to go online and register their property by serial number,” he explained. “Citizen participation greatly enhances our ability to recover property in the event of a theft.”
Nobles said he reduced the cost of housing Long County inmates from $600,000 to $360,000 this past fiscal year.
The incumbent sheriff also noted that his department was able to purchase more than $40,000 worth of equipment with confiscated funds at no cost to taxpayers.
“I always have an open-door policy, 365 days a year, for anybody,” he said, noting that people who might not know him can drop by. “Tell them to come by and meet me.”
Works is a self-employed businessman who has lived in Long County for 19 years. Before that, he lived in Hinesville and retired from Fort Stewart.
Works, who has a criminal justice degree, said his business and military career makes him the qualified candidate for people in the community hoping to see vast improvements in the Sheriff’s Office.
“I was a first sergeant acting provost marshal sergeant major of Law Enforcement Command at Fort Stewart,” works said of his career in the Military Police.
He said that background covers an array of law-enforcement duties, including police functions, force protection and development, administrative work and corrections operations.
“The same old, same old has been in effect for a long time,” Works said. “I seek to improve the sheriff’s duties and the sheriff’s department. I think it needs to be upgraded from an outsider’s perspective, and I have extensive leadership, management and supervisory skills.”
Works said he would like to implement better quality-control measures to improve the current system. He said he would like to build more trust between the community and law-enforcement officers while also emphasizing the need to verify statements and information received within the department.
He added he would also like to see the younger deputies be mentored by more experienced personnel.
“As we currently speak, they have a lot of deputies that are 19-20 years old,” Works said. “I would like to pull from a pool of retired soldiers who’ve been accustomed to dealing with people from all walks of life. They are more seasoned, if you will, a little bit more mature. Not that there is nothing wrong with the ones they currently have, but once again, I think this would be an upgrade to the department.”
He said he plans to be fiscally accountable to the taxpayers of Long County, making sure that drug-seizure money is spent wisely.
“There needs to be a better perception of proper communication, transparency and equality for all,” Works said. “We need to do more with less.”
Works said he wishes Middleton and Nobles the best during the election.
“I look forward to serving EVERYONE in Long County and those that I come across in my duties as sheriff,” he said, insisting the word “everyone” be written in capital letters.