Bennett, Callaway in sheriff race
Shayne Bennett and Jamie Callaway are both seeking the Republican nomination to face incumbent Sheriff Melvin Andrews in November to become the county’s highest elected law enforcement officer.
The first question asked the two candidates about their initial priorities/changes they would make should they be elected sheriff.
Callaway said he would take a much more aggressive approach to the drug problem in the county. He stated the drug problem was the number one concern for residents of Elbert County.
Bennett said he had worked in all of the county’s schools within the system and said it was no secret drugs were in the schools. Bennett said he wanted to team up with agencies both within Elbert County and those neighboring the county to put together a drug team that will demolish the drug problem in the county.
Candidates were then asked about the lack of communication between the sheriff’s office and local media, leaving the public in the dark.
“The citizens have a right to know what’s going on in the county,” said Bennett. “You get done with an investigation, you turn it over to the media.” Bennett said he would not play favorites and did not care who the suspect was.
Callaway said, “I want to bring a level of transparency to the sheriff’s office that maybe we haven’t had before.” He stated the sheriff’s office was not his but it belonged to the people and he would simply be a steward of the office.
“It’s a community effort and if the community does not trust it, they won’t be willing to help,” said Callaway. He also wants to hold regular town hall meetings during his tenure as sheriff.
The next question asked the candidates if they had a plan to better manage the detention center and its budget.
Callaway said the problem was a “Catch 22” issue and that medical care literally eats the budget up. His only suggestion was to work together with judges and courts to put fewer of the non-violent offenders in prison.
“If you put people in jail, you’re going to have to pay for it,” said Callaway.
Bennett agreed the medical costs were the major issue for the detention center. He suggested bidding the services out to find a lower price.
Bennett agreed with Callaway that if the sheriff’s office put people in jail, some would have medical issues and working to incarcerate fewer of the non-violent offenders would be part of the solution.
The two candidates then weighed in on whether the current administration was working collaboratively with other agencies and what changes needed to be made.
Bennett said, “I do not. Not at all.”
Bennett stated he had talked with other agencies and that their opinion was that the sheriff’s office did not work with them. “We have got to come together in order fight the drug problem in this county,” said Bennett.
Callaway said one of the things which bothered him the most was the lack of ability to work with the Elberton Police Department. “That’s got to change.” He wants to use outside agencies but said it was crucial for the sheriff’s office to find a way to work with the Elberton Police Department. “If it affects the city, it affects the county. If it affects the county, it affects the city.”
The candidates were then asked about their plan to reduce the amount of time those involved in an accident waited for a response from the Georgia State Patrol (GSP).
Callaway and Bennett both said for minor accidents, including deer wrecks, deputies need to be trained to handle those type of accidents but that the GSP would still be used for major accidents or when nearby.
When asked to say something nice about their opponents, both candidates stated they had been friends for a number of years and that regardless of the outcome of the election, that would not change.