Only the Stephens County Sheriff’s race in the 2020 local election season is contested; all other local seats up for election are uncontested.
ConnectLocal sat down earlier this week with both incumbent sheriff Randy Shirley and challenger Rusty Fulbright to learn their views on issues related to the office, and to hear of their plans and goals for the Stephens County Sheriff's Office.
Note: Due to extensive page-load times when posting both 18-question interviews, ConnectLocal will post the video answers from both candidates for the first 10 questions. The answers to the remaining eight questions will be posted in audio and text format only.
Introduction and law enforcement experience
1. Assuming a diametric conflict arises between the following in the performance of your job as sheriff, list the following in order of your loyalty, and explain your reasoning: 1) Voters 2) Your officers 3) Community welfare
2. Which, in your opinion, is the Sheriff’s prime directive - to uphold the law, or to uphold the Constitution?
3. What will you accomplish in the first 90 days that will set the tone for the next four years, and how do you plan to accomplish it?
4. How big of a priority is school safety, and are there any changes you will make to the School Resource Officer Program to better guard schools and students against any active shooter situation and against drugs, violence and gangs in our schools.
5. What do you see as the Sheriff’s primary role, and what is the most important skill a sheriff must possess in order to fulfill that role?
6. In what way can the Sheriff's Office work with the prosecutor’s office and court system to reduce the recidivism rate at the Stephens County Jail?
7. What are you thoughts on the importance of a high speed pursuit policy for the Department, and policy have/will you put in place?
8. What will you do to to improve cooperation with other local and regional law enforcement agencies and taskforces to provide better public service for the citizens of Stephens County?
9. What can the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office do to help address the issue of mental illnesses and its impact on Stephens County, and to ensure those citizens are appropriately tended to?
10. What changes are needed in policies and procedures at the jail, and how will you accomplish those?
What changes need to take place, either within the sheriff’s office, or within the community, to gain control over the rampant drug problem in Stephens County.
What do you see as the Sheriff’s relationship with county administration and elected officials, and with other constitutional officers?
How does a law enforcement agency achieve a balance between rigorous enforcement of the law, citizens’ rights, and compassion and respect for the residents of the community?
What can be done to improve traffic safety in Stephens County especially in our well known high-danger areas such as Brookhaven/Rock Creek and the Hwy. 17 Bypass/Memorial Drive intersection?
What steps have or will you take to assure that the Sheriff’s department reflects the gender and ethnic diversity of the community it serves?
What can be done to address any perception by citizens that laws in Stephens County are not equally applied to everyone?
What are the most important considerations in building the optimal team of deputies and department employees, and how do you ensure that you hire qualified job candidates?
The final question is a two part question. First, What one question would you, as a citizen, ask your opponent? And finally, will you please answer that question for yourself?
Disclaimer: Apologies in advance for occasionally reduced audio quality and occasional video unsteadiness - those were purely operator error.
Note: Candidates were given the following format for the interview: The interview would be limited to approximately 30 minutes. Each candidate would be allowed a 1-minute intro, then would be asked a set of questions for which they would have 2 minutes to answer. Following they questions, each candidate would e allowed a 2-minute closing statement. Candidates were not interrupted during their answers, but responses posted here were limited to the two minute timeline. I made every effort to let the speaker complete the sentence/thought they were currently speaking on when the two-minute mark was reached, while still holding both candidates to the original time limits equally.