EDITOR’S NOTE: Since Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength announced that he will not seek re-election, four candidates have emerged: Lt. John Ivey, Capt. Scott Peebles, Lt. Richard Roundtree and Lt. Robbie Silas. Here, Ivey answers questions about his candidacy.
Q: Why do you want to be sheriff?
A: I’m a people person. I actually believe the law enforcement side should help the people. We’ve gotten away from that, so to speak, we’ve become a reactionary department. We’ll come if you call us. The problem with that is that we don’t have touch with the public and sometimes when we do, that becomes adversarial. If we go back to the old concept of community policing, I believe that we will reduce the crime rate and increase awareness for better respect for the sheriff’s department.
Q: What would you need to change to implement community policing?
A: There’s not a lot of things to do. We would have to redesign the workload we have now. Of course, there would have to be some training, for people to know how to do it.
I’ve always been advocating this. What we do now is just ride, lock people up and take them to jail. We’ve got to do more than that. The ones that deserve to be put in jail, that’s where we will put them, but we want to stop it from getting to that point. Over the long run the whole community will be rewarded for it.
Q: Many at this point in their career would be contemplating retirement, not taking on something new, such as elected office.
A: I thought about all those things. I could just go out to the golf course and go have fun, but I owe this community something.
All these 32 years this community has paid me, now I want to pay them.
Q: Where do you see your support coming from?
A: I’ve been in this community, other than school and the military, all my life and people know me.
I intend to be the next sheriff. People need to have a choice, and I think I’m the best choice of the ones that have announced.
Q: Will you take a leave of absence to campaign?
A: Once I qualify I will do one of two things, take a leave of absence or retire. At first I was going to retire, but after talking to the sheriff, he said I didn’t have to retire if I didn’t want to.
Q: Some have said the only reason you are in the race is to split the vote. How do you respond to that?
A: No. I’ve been thinking about running for sheriff a long time. I expressed that to some people in November. I wanted somebody else to run because I know that there are some things down here that need to be done. People have asked me to run. I said I will do it, not to split the vote. I just think I’m the best person for the job.