Spalding County Republican voters will have three choices for Spalding County sheriff in the July primary - incumbent James “Dee” Stewart, Keith Duncan or Tim Perez.
“I enjoy helping the people of Spalding County,” Stewart said when asked why he thought he should be re-elected. “I’m sheriff for everybody, not just Republicans. I’m a sheriff who’s here to serve everybody. If they call me with a problem, I’ll be there to help him.”
He said if he is re-elected, he will continue his efforts to clean up Spalding County and reduce drug use in the county.
He emphasized that if people have problems, they can call the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office for help. He provided the example of a snowbound elderly person needing medicine - he can go get the medicine since he has four-wheel-drive vehicles.
“I’ve been with the department now for 22 years and I’ve always been working the streets,” Duncan said when asked why he should be elected sheriff.
He described himself as a “working captain” in the warrants division who gets out, serves papers, and knows the problem areas of the county.
He said he wants the Sheriff’s Office to be more community-oriented, with tip lines and other means of gathering input from residents. He wants the office to be open so people can come in and talk. He also proposed getting involved with the school resource officers and interacting with the school system in a way besides “being there for security purposes.”
Duncan said Stewart is a good sheriff but he is out on the street more often and knows the problem areas more intimately. He said he would work with officers on the streets and lead by example.
“Leadership is my forte, that’s my strength,” Perez said when asked why he should be elected sheriff. “I’d like to couple that with my desire to make a difference and my willingness to influence the action and accept the responsibility of the county.”
He said he wants to make a difference, not in the lives of one or two people, but in the lives of the 60,000 residents of Spalding County. When asked what his plans would be if elected sheriff, Perez said he wants to bring Spalding County up to the standards of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
“There are only eight out of 157 law enforcement agencies in Georgia that are accredited. I want to be the ninth,” he said.
He said CALEA has seven primary categories and that these seven break down into 150 sub-categories.
“That in itself is probably a four-year undertaking,” he said.
As part of his program, he said he would improve benefits for jail staff, set up programs to educate prisoners and reduce recidivism and utilize all possible local, state and federal grant money.