Sheriff candidates address voting records, diversity

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Augusta resident Earnest Rich­ardson said he is still not sure who he will vote for in the Richmond County sheriff primaries at the end of July. He is not alone.

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Attorney Freddie Sanders addresses the crowd at a sheriff candidates forum at Broadway Baptist Church.  SUMMER MOORE/STAFF
SUMMER MOORE/STAFF
Attorney Freddie Sanders addresses the crowd at a sheriff candidates forum at Broadway Baptist Church.

“Most of my friends are undecided,” he said.

Five of the six candidates spoke at a forum Saturday morning at Broadway Baptist Church on Barton Chapel Road. Republican Michael Godowns did not attend.

The session got heated when the first question addressed party affiliation. Sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles and Lt. Robbie Silas have voted for candidates in both parties, and both are running as Democrats. One moderator, Tanya Barnhill, said Peebles had been called a flip-flopper. Both candidates said they had voted for the person, not the party.

Richmond County schools Pub­­lic Safety Lt. Richard Round­­tree addressed Peeb­les’ voting record, saying he had voted Republican in the past. Peebles said he has voted Democratic more times than Roundtree, because Roundtree only started voting six years ago. Roundtree then addressed the issue again, saying Peebles has only voted Democratic twice because he was going to run for sheriff.

Sheriff’s Lt. John Ivey and Roundtree both said they had always voted as Democrats.

The only Republican cand­idate at the forum, attorney Freddie Sanders, told the audience he had voted Repub­lican his whole life.

“If I have to be tarnished because I’m a Republican, then I have to tell you that’s what I am,” he said. “I will not lie to you to get your vote.”

Another issue raised was diversity in the department. Barnhill asked what the candidates would do to address concerns that the sheriff’s office does not reflect Augusta’s majority minority population.

Peebles and Silas said the department had to be better about recruiting minorities. Ivey, Round­tree and Sanders said the promotion process would change under them.

All the candidates except Sanders said they would start a citizen’s advisory board within their first 100 days in office.

When asked whether they would consider putting someone on the board who had “been through the (penal) system,” Ivey, Silas and Roundtree said yes. Peebles said no.

A question from the audience concerned whether racial profiling exists.

“Is it out there? Sure it is,” Silas said. “It’s not just in the officers, it’s in the community.”

He said education is key.

“Perception is a dangerous word. It implies so many things,” Ivey said, adding that to avoid racial profiling, the department has to diversify.

Peebles said profiling is not the biggest racial problem in Augusta. He said he has heard some mostly black communities feel deputies treat them differently than white neighborhoods. He suggested sensitivity training and psychological assessments during the hiring process.

Roundtree said he had profiled in some situations, such as when there is a group of working-age men hanging on a street corner.

“It makes no sense for a 22- or 23-year-old, black or white, to be standing on a street corner when they could be working,” he said.

Sanders said he would address racial profiling during deputy training.

“I want those men to know that everybody’s life is of equal value,” he said.

Richardson said he is waiting for the candidates to give specific answers, and to be honest about their policies and affiliations.

“We have all heard what they said today before,” he said. “What I am waiting for is a truly honest answer.”

Comments (28) Add comment
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Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 07/01/12 - 06:13 pm
0
0
There is no doubt in my mind

There is no doubt in my mind that their is a race issue in Augusta. There always has been. Probably always will be. The answers to the problems afflicting the communities lies in the hands of the members of the community. Until the PEOPLE stand up for what is right and believe in what is right, all the government programs and intervention is useless. PEOPLE have to change their destiny, not a government entity. The role of sheriff is to counter crime and deal with crime in the best way. They should be fair and impartial in their decision-making. I depend on the sheriffs office to uphold the law. I don't care if the sheriff is purple with green polka-dots, so long as he is there to serve ALL members of the community.

investigator
28
Points
investigator 07/01/12 - 06:53 pm
0
0
Barnhill

You bring up a good point but I disagree with your statement "The ONLY time Republican or Democrat should be an issue; is if you intend on working for the "party" instead of the citizens of Augusta". Look at the top state law enforcement in Arizona who just happened to be Repubicans that want people that look a certain way to carry documents or papers on them! (sounds famaliar). My opinion is that Democrats tend to treat all people fair and want to include all people and not just a certain group of people. How come the Republican party never address diversity or inclusion? You're right racism exist not only in Augusta but throughout Georgia. From what I've see thus far of our Governor, I don't think he's fair toward minorites or believe in diversity!!

Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 07/01/12 - 07:56 pm
1
0
The sheriff's race should be

The sheriff's race should be non-partisan.

investigator
28
Points
investigator 07/01/12 - 08:30 pm
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I agree Patty P

It should be but just like any organization there has to be diversity and Republicans aren't about that! I would love to have a difficult choice on who to vote for on any given election but if a certain group doesn't accept me because of my skin color, they can go to hell! I feel if any American black or white that believes in division and support that political party feels the same way and somehow feel they're superior! I wonder why my republicans heroes only goal was to make sure this is a one term president? The supreme court ruled on healthcare, we all know that there are concerns with the healthcare and coverage in this country, so instead of the speaker and Klan working with the President to improve it, they want to repel it! How is this helpful for this country, democrat or republican? A lot of Americans are without healthcare and it affects all of us, just once I wish we could be as one! I understand the fight during election year but after a President is elected we should support and respect the office, no matter if it's Clinton, Bush, Obama or even if it's Romney! STOP THE HATE AND AUGUSTANS GET OUT AND VOTE!

Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 07/01/12 - 09:18 pm
0
0
I agree with some of what you

I agree with some of what you said investigator. I wouldn't vote for Romney if my life depended on it. But when it comes to the safety of law-abiding citizens I have to vote for the person I feel will most closely meet that agenda. I have no issues with Roundtree, but his theme was 'Education instead of Incarceration.' Wonderful idea and excellent strategy to help the people of Augusta's ailing communities. But it can't have much impact in the police department. The duties of the sheriff's office and it's deputies is to enforce the law. That is what the citizens depend on them to do. When we veer from the laws written to protect citizens against crime, we are violating the citizens so-to-speak. This is why people run away from Augusta. This is why propery values in the area took a steady decline. In my opinion, Roundtree is in a most strategic position where he is (BOE) if his focus is on making sure the kids get an education so that crime doesn't set in and take over.

investigator
28
Points
investigator 07/01/12 - 09:36 pm
2
0
Thanks Patty P

Thanks MS Patty P and we've had quite a debate but I think we both have similair views but it's always good to disagree and be respectful towards one another! One last thing, lets not give up on our youth, I know its tough sometimes but we have to approach them in different manner and somehow give them hope and change their warp way of thinking! Take care and enyoy your 4th of July holiday and stay cool!

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