Attorney Freddie Sanders told supporters gathered outside the Augusta Municipal Building that even though he hasn’t worn a badge in more than 25 years, his heart is still in law enforcement.
Sanders said he intends to run as a Republican. So far, four other candidates have said they will run on the Democratic ballot.
“I am a conservative, but I’m going to be the sheriff for everybody,” Sanders said. “I don’t care where you live or what walk of life you come from, I’m going to be your sheriff. My door will be open.”
Sanders said he intends to aggressively enforce the law and “lock up these thieves and lock up these burglars and lock up these people that are committing these violent crimes.”
He also said he intends to educate the people of Richmond County about what the sheriff’s office can and cannot do for them.
“I’m going to change the way calls are taken and perhaps not have to send too many cars out every time to keep these cars free – the patrol division free – to patrol Richmond County and to give the people what they deserve,” he said.
Sanders, an attorney with Capers, Dunbar, Sanders, Bruckner & Bellotti LLP, was the chief of the Richmond County Police Department before it was dissolved in 1985.
Supporters say Sanders’ years of experience in law enforcement and as a practicing attorney make him the best qualified of those running for office.
“We are blessed to have the most qualified person in the world right here,” said former Augusta Mayor Larry Sconyers, who stood at Sanders’ side throughout his announcement speech.
Sconyers said although it might seem counterintuitive to run as a Republican in a majority Democratic county, it could be a strategy that works.
Sconyers said with four Democrats on the ballot in the July primary, that race will likely go to a runoff. He said there are several Republican candidates in other races, such as Rick Allen, who has declared as a candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, who will draw voters who want to vote for Sanders also. Any Democrats counting on getting help from Republican voters in the primary might be disappointed, he said.
“Some people are talking about a Republican crossover vote; I’m not sure that’s going to happen,” Sconyers said.
Sanders appears to be the candidate ready to take on whomever comes out of the contest for the Democratic ticket.
“Our message is going to be, ‘Let’s look at the qualifications, let’s look at the man,’” Sconyers said.