Three candidates shared their views on how to combat the he drug problem in Randolph County if elected as sheriff during The Inter-Mountain's candidate forum on Thursday.
Democrat candidates John K. Miller, Mark T. Brady and Randall Neal Elmore all participated in the forum and answered questions from moderator Dr. David Turner. Democrat candidate Lynn Philipps was not present during the forum because of a family illness, but Crystal Warner-Gibson read a letter from Phillips during the candidates' time to provide introductions. Republican candidate Bruce K. Howell was not present during the forum.
During his introduction, Miller said his 25 years in the United States Army and 20 years as a correctional officer will assist him in being sheriff.
"I hope you go away from here tonight to be informed about all the candidates," Brady said during his introduction.
"I offer you no promises tonight, I only offer 20 years as veteran police officer."
Elmore said he has business management experience and worked with the sheriff's department for 13 and a half years.
"I've also worked as a special deputy with the United States Marshal Service," he said. "I am committed to making a great sheriff."
Gibson, representing Philipps, read a letter from the candidate.
"I looked forward to explaining my agenda, 'Caring for the County,'" Gibson read. "The fiscal and management responsibilities required to be sheriff are just like those I face every day as a business person. Therefore, I developed an agenda to care for our county. My agenda is built on protection, involvement and prevention. I believe it is important to use our resources to provide protection to more remote areas of the county."
The first question presented by Turner was, "How important is it that the sheriff have a background in law enforcement?"
Miller said the sheriff should be knowledge about laws whether they worked in law enforcement or not.
"I have 20 years in corrections, it is a law enforcement field," he said. "I do think you should have an understanding of what the laws are and there is some issue where you should have some knowledge of the law. Anyone can run for sheriff whether you have a law enforcement background or not. I believe whether or not you have the law enforcement background, you have to have a common sense."
Brady said it is very important for the person elected to have a law enforcement background.
"One of the main duties of the sheriff is to enforce the laws of the county, and with your vote, you give him the power to arrest, the power to take one's liberty and the authority to take one's life," he said. "If you don't have the training, knoweldge or the experience to be able to fulfill that duty, I don't think you should be sheriff."
Elmore agreed that it is extremely important to have a law enforcement background to be sheriff.
"No. 1, you have to know what the job is, but also No. 2 you have to experience what law enforcement officers go through on a daily basis."
The second question posed by Turner was "Do you think there is a drug problem in Randolph County? If so, what would you do to combat it?"
All the candidates agreed that there is a drug problem in Randolph County, but all three had different views on how to battle the problem.
Miller said the county needs a drug task force and the law enforcement agencies to work together.
"We also need the assistance of the citizens of Randolph County," he said. "The citizens of Randolph County are willing to put their neck out on the line and tell the sheriff's department or whatever law enforcement agencies about the problems and drugs in their community and where things are happening."
He said law enforcement knows that with the help of the citizens, law enforcement can put "a hurt" on the drug problem in the county.
Brady said prescription drugs are being over prescribed and sold to the youth.
"It starts at home, that is where it all begins," Brady said. "We have to provide an opportunity for our children. You have to go out and spend time with your children. One of the ways I want to combat this with the Randolph County Sheriff's Department is to provide information to the parents. A lot of times we keep providing information to students and our youth, but who has to provide that leadership is our parents."
He said law enforcement can't handle the problem by itself, and it is a community problem where everyone needs to step forward to combat the problem.
Elmore said everyone knows there is a big problem with drugs in the county.
"If elected, the first thing I will do is create a functional drug task force that is going to work with other law enforcement agencies to combat the dealers and the people out there supplying the drugs," he said. "I want to work with the prosecuting attorney and the court system to get stiffer sentences so these people don't get out of jail and slapped on the wrist."
He said as long as there is a demand, someone will be there to supply the drugs. He said there needs to be a program to education the youth in the school system to teach them the dangers of drug use.