Freddie Sanders laid out his campaign platform for sheriff of Richmond County in simple terms Tuesday night.
If it is illegal, he will be opposed to it.
“That is a no-brainer,” Sanders told the crowd gathered at the monthly meeting of Pride and Progress of Augusta-Richmond County. “If it is illegal, I have to make the case.”
Sanders, a former sheriff’s deputy and chief of the now-defunct Richmond County Police Department, said his main concern is protecting the residents of Augusta from violent criminals. When it comes to that subject, he minced no words.
“If you want to commit a violent crime in Richmond County, as far as I’m concerned you need to be in jail,” he said. “Whether they get rehabilitated or not is no concern of mine.”
Sanders, a Republican, said the difference between him and his Democratic opponent, Richmond County school Public Safety Lt. Richard Roundtree, is that he has the experience and the knowledge to run a department with a $56 million budget.
“This is not about race, and this is not about party. This is about qualifications,” he said.
Sanders, an attorney who last wore a police uniform 27 years ago, said that his critics – including Roundtree – have implied that he comes form another generation and that he isn’t familiar with modern technology. He said he defied anyone to test him.
Sanders said his campaign had tried to get Roundtree to show up at several events, including Tuesday’s meeting, to debate him of those issues, but his opponent has always declined.
“I want him to show up somewhere and debate me and tell me what I don’t know about the Richmond County sheriff’s department,” he said.
Roundtree, when reached by phone, said he wasn’t aware of any events where he had declined to debate Sanders.
“I don’t even know what Pride and Progress is,” he said. “If someone from my campaign declined it, that might have happened.”
Roundtree said that Tuesdays were his campaign meeting nights and as a rule he did not plan other events on those evenings.
Sanders said he would be happy to meet Roundtree and any feasible time and place.
“I’m in this race for real, and I’m in it to win,” he said.
Sanders said that for more then two decades the sheriff’s office has had strong, stable leadership from Sheriffs Charlie Webster and Ronnie Strength and he wanted to continue that tradition.
“For 25 or 30 years we’ve not had a real strongly contested race, but this is it,” he said. “This is the mother of all races, and the stakes are high.”