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Sumter County Sheriff's race

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October 21, 2004

Americus-- Sumter County voters did not reelect their Sheriff in the primary, instead opting for a new face in the office.

The two men on the November ballot are both experienced law enforcement officers, both Sumter County natives, and are, in fact, friends. So what sets them apart?

"I'm still doing the same thing as from the get go, out pounding the pavement, going door to door," says Democrat James Driver. Since beating the incumbent Sheriff in the primary, Driver says his message hasn't changed.

"Professionalism and integrity that has been the strong point for me in my campaign, I want to provide the citizens with a professional staff and restore integrity to the department."

Driver is at a memorial for three people killed in domestic violence incidents, but not as a candidate. "I was involved in two of the cases here, I was an investigator at the time with the Americus police department."

Driver says decreasing domestic violence is just one issue he is stumping on, so is keeping the Sheriff's budget in line and increasing patrol in the county.

Issues his opponent cares about too, "I just recently took an early retirement from the GSP after 32 years to run for this office," says Republican Pete Smith.

Smith says the office can be run better--even with a shrinking budget, "We have got such a high overturn in the jail system because of low salaries. I want those people to have a basic salary, because to get quality people, you have to pay them a decent salary."

Besides properly managing tax-payer money, Smith says he will be tough on crime and improve relations with the public, "I won't say this will happen overnight, but with effective leadership I have and the good people I'll have in place we will have a good team and we will get the job done."

A job both candidates say they can do well.

Nelson Brown, a long-time Americus police officer, is the certified write-in candidate.

Posted at 6:00 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com