Hunt faces competition for Aiken County sheriff's office

Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt has competition for the first time in three elections.

Warren­ville resident Jim Vause filed Tuesday – beating Fri­day’s deadline – and said he plans to run an aggressive campaign against Hunt’s “good old boy” system.

Hunt’s plan is to run off his record.

In a résumé he provided, Vause said he has 35 years of law enforcement experience. He owns a private security business
called Liberty Security Ser­vices LLC, based in War­renville.

According to his Web site, he owns a concealed weapons training academy where he teaches personal firearm safety and concealed weapons permit laws. He also has a private shooting range where he teaches people how to “safely utilize their guns for their personal and family protection.”

Vause said he has a few main campaign promises.

“No. 1, job one is police- community relations,” he said. “We need to put the deputies back in the community.”

Vause said he wants deputies to have more personal connections with the people on their beats.

His plan is to have deputies talk to everyone and get any concerns they
have. Vause said he will give himself 72 hours to fix the issue.

He said he wants to get rid of the “good old boy” system he said Hunt has been a part of for nine years.

“The network of people who pull strings for each other needs to end,” he said. “I don’t owe anyone anything.”

Hunt said he will run on his record, which he believes speaks for itself.

“We have worked very hard for the last nine years,” he said.

When Hunt became sheriff in May 2003, he immediately made big changes, he said. Within the first two weeks he almost tripled the number of deputies on the street by restructuring and moving them from a 10-hour shift to 12.

He said they also had a backlog of around 20,000 outstanding warrants. He has since cut that in half.

In his first year in office, the sheriff’s office took over the jail.

When his office inherited it, Hunt said, there were about 427 inmates in a jail designed for 317.

Now there are anywhere from 300 to 322 inmates kept there because of an efficient relationship with the solicitor’s office.

“It saves the taxpayers money when there are less inmates,” he said.

Hunt said he has also doubled the community policing program. When he came in, there were about 20
crime watch programs in Aiken County. Now there are 46.

Other programs he implemented include the Alive at 25 program, the reserve deputy program and the red alert system, where bracelets are given to keep track of at-risk family members who might wander off.

“I have worked very hard for this community,” Hunt said. “We will run off our record.”

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