By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Sheriff services spark debate
Placeholder Image
Five of the six candidates for sheriff dueled at the NAACP political forum Friday.
The only other face-off was between incumbent Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver and challenger Linda Graham.
Larry Boggs, who is seeking the District 4 seat held by incumbent Commissioner Pat Bowen, spoke and answered questions, but his opponent did not appear.
Another hopeful, Bill Gillespie, participated but his opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, did not.
Several unopposed candidates such as Tax Commissioner Virgil Jones and Coroner Reginald Pierce spoke briefly and said how glad they were to be unopposed.
Incumbent Sheriff Don Martin said in his opening statement that he was unlike his unopposed fellow candidates: "I like to run, and I like to run opposed to give the people their voice."
Martin said his department has been successful and grown from 52 employees to 132 during his 16 years.
Jerald Burgess, running for sheriff, said, "This is Election 101 for me... I'm learning and enjoying the campaign and loving every minute of it."
Burgess said he wanted not to have a blanket policy for people convicted of crimes in the schools and that he was concerned for the welfare of "slightly mental" prisoners in the jail.
Richard White said if he were elected sheriff he would not only be concerned about inmates, but would implement numerous programs to keep people from going to jail. He cited the juvenile first offender program as an example.
Mark Floyd said that while there were good programs available, they would have to be paid for. He said he wanted to add the phrase "and to assist" to the sheriff's department motto, making it "To protect, to serve and to assist." Floyd also plans to add "plain car patrols in the bad neighborhoods."
As part of a reply to a question about crime, incumbent Martin said unmarked patrol cars were not practical and were generally illegal.
Martin said a large part of the sheriff's department budget was spent on housing, clothing, feeding and caring for inmates and on maintenance of the jail.
Warren Waye said he would implement programs such as community policing, neighborhood watch and a gang task force.
Burgess noted that he had seven years experience in the federal prison in Jesup and that he was concerned about the mental health issues of prisoners. He said some people preferred to be incarcerated and, "That tells us something is wrong."
Floyd agreed that prisoners should be monitored for mental health.
White said that programs like the one for juvenile first offenders were good, but noted that parents had to do their part. He said that when a person decides to have a child, they must accept the responsibility.
The candidates were asked about their experience in law enforcement or related fields. Floyd said he ran several successful businesses, had experience with the Liberty County Sheriff's Office and came from a family that included several peace officers.
White said he had no formal law enforcement experience except setting up and serving in the Lake George area neighborhood watch. He said he had passed the physical and was prepared to enroll in the police academy when elected.
Burgess said he had learned "the whole nine yards" of law enforcement as an MP in the Army.  After retiring from the Army, Burgess worked at both at the county jail and Jesup prison.
Martin said that in his 16 years he had "more experience than anyone could gain anywhere else." He said his department solved 51 percent of its felony cases, which he called astronomical.
Waye said he had worked for the sheriff's department for a total of 10 years, seven of them as a school resource officer. Joining Fort Stewart, he worked two years, receiving a promotion for a total 13 years in law enforcement.
Candidate Jimmie T. Jones was invited to the forum, but did not appear.

Sign up for our e-newsletters