Richmond County schools Public Safety Lt. Richard Roundtree announced his formal entry into the race for sheriff Thursday from the front steps of Beulah Grove Baptist Church.
Roundtree said that if he were elected, his administration would be a partnership between law enforcement and residents to address the endemic problems of crime, poverty and lack of education that plague parts of Augusta.
“When we have more men standing on the corners rather than a classroom or a job site, then I say we are not doing enough,” he said. “That means we are failing.”
Roundtree arrived in front of the church on Poplar Street in a white limo with his parents, Rosa and Bobby Roundtree, who stood with a group of 30 supporters.
Before his speech, supporters passed out a document titled, “My Covenant with the Community,” a 10-point pledge that Roundtree said he would commit to during his first term.
Those promises included creating a Citizens Advisory Board and establishing a Volunteer Services Bureau, to solicit public input and allow for more community involvement with the sheriff’s office, to take advantage of the technologies associated with surveillance camera systems and software, and to collaborate better with the district attorney and the Richmond County school system.
He said he hopes to create a better, fairer administration.
“I want to be part of a judicial system that is fair and just to all people,” Roundtree said. “I want to demolish a system of justice where favoritism, and nepotism and financial status are more important than education and hard work and determination.”
Roundtree acknowledged that he had made mistakes in his past, but said he stood before those gathered as a changed man, ready to serve.
“I stand with the idea that no matter what imperfections others say may lie in me, no matter what flaws they say I may possess, that none of this will change the fact that there are more young men in prison than there are in college, that the graduation rate here in Augusta is less than 70 percent, that the violent crime rate among teens rises year after year, that officers are detached emotionally and disconnected physically from the neighborhoods they serve,” Roundtree said.
Although he has been campaigning in earnest for weeks, Roundtree is the second candidate to formally announce his candidacy. Sheriff’s Lt. Scott Peebles beat everyone to the punch Monday after Sheriff Ronnie Strength said he would retire.
Two other candidates will make their official announcements today.
Sheriff’s Lt. John Ivey, a 32-year veteran, will hold an event at 10 a.m. at the municipal building, and Lt. Ronnie Silas, Strength’s brother-in-law, will make his announcement at 12:30 p.m. at Democratic Party headquarters on Greene Street.