An interesting Terrell County sheriff's race - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

An interesting Terrell County sheriff's race

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By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

July 11, 2008

TERRELL COUNTY, GA (WALB) - Veteran Terrell County Sheriff John Bowens is facing a challenge from two other candidates in Tuesday's primary election.

There is something else that makes this race interesting.

One of the candidates is in Iraq.

There are three candidates in the race for Terrell County Sheriff all running on the Democratic ticket. Incumbent John Bowens is facing off against candidates Gene Shattles and Joey Harris.

With just a few days until voters in south Georgia head to the polls, candidates are kicking their campaigns into high gear.

"I don't like to make a lot of promises but the only promise I can make is to continue to do the best job I'm doing," said Bowens.

John Bowens has worked in law enforcement in Terrell County for 32 years, the last 15 and a half as sheriff.

Gene Shattles is an eight year veteran of law enforcement and has served with the sheriff's office before.

One problem he would like to tackle is taxes, handing the job over to the tax commissioner.

"We have a large amount of delinquent taxes, that is the reason we need to turn them over to her to be collected, Terrell County is one of three in the state of Georgia where the Sheriff still collects taxes," said Shattles.

The tax problem is something Joey Harris would like to better as well.

He is now working as a contractor in Iraq, but we did chat via the Internet. Harris says thousands of tax dollars go uncollected and he wants to fix that.

The 16-year law enforcement veteran also says there is a lack of structure in the department.

There is a common link between the candidates, they all want to see the department and the community change for the better.

"Increased pay, probably better benefits, some of them say they would like to change the shift work from 8 hours to 12 hour shifts so maybe they'll have more time off," said Shattles.

"There's a lot of things I already know I don't have to learn it," said Bowens.

Harris said before he left the country, many voters expressed dissatisfaction with the sheriff's office, and he hopes to return home as sheriff-elect.

Harris didn't want to talk about what kind of work he's doing in Iraq. He ran unsuccessfully against Sheriff Bowens four years ago.

There are 5,371 registered voters in Terrell County, election officials expect at least a 60 percent turnout on Tuesday.

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