Roundtree makes history with victory in sheriff's race

Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012 8:39 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 12:23 AM
  • Follow Elections

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth installment of a 10-part series on the top stories of 2012.

Back | Next
Richard Roundtree gets a hug from 5-year-old Randi Ebron-Frails, daughter of campaign adviser Randolph Frails, on election night.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/FILE
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/FILE
Richard Roundtree gets a hug from 5-year-old Randi Ebron-Frails, daughter of campaign adviser Randolph Frails, on election night.


When Ronnie Strength announced in March that he would not seek another term as Richmond County sheriff, a flurry of hats was tossed into the ring as candidates lined up to take his place.

Few predicted the election’s outcome eight months later.

In March, Richard Roundtree was one of six men who announced their intentions to become the county’s next sheriff.

Over the next few months, he would battle his way from an underfunded Democratic underdog to the prohibitive favorite facing Republican Freddie Sanders in the general election.

On Nov. 6, he made local history – becoming Richmond County’s first black sheriff in the office’s 230 years.

Roundtree, a public safety lieutenant for the Richmond County Board of Education, was one of four Democrats and two Republicans who competed for the office.

The other Democrats were veteran sheriff’s officers: Lt. John Ivey, Lt. Robbie Silas and Capt. Scott Peebles.

From the start, Peebles appeared to have an advantage over his opponents, both in name recognition and in support. His campaign coffers overflowed with donations, and “Peebles for Sheriff” signs and billboards sprang up on yards and in front of businesses throughout the county.

In the July 31 primary election, Peebles got 47 percent of votes cast, not quite enough to win outright. Roundtree came in second with 39 percent, setting up a runoff election Aug. 21. The winner would face Sanders, who had soundly defeated Mike Godowns in the Republican primary.

Peebles received high-profile endorsements from Strength and Mayor Deke Copenhaver after the primary, and some predicted he would sail into the November election.

Roundtree, however, rallied his supporters and surprised many by doing what few expected – persuading almost 2,000 more supporters to go to the polls than had on July 31.

“I think the citizens of Augusta responded and said we’re not going to let them dictate our destiny,” Roundtree said after his win.

Citing similar ideas for changes at the sheriff’s office, Peebles gave his former opponent his endorsement. Strength, however, backed his longtime friend Sanders in the general election.

Roundtree went on to win in November with 63 percent of the votes.

Roundtree said the victory was the result of a plan that began to form more than six years ago, when he was a sergeant investigating violent crimes for the sheriff’s office.

That’s when, he said, he saw the correlation between lack of education and the rate of violent crime in Augusta.

An Augusta native and a graduate of T.W. Josey High School, Roundtree was able to avoid many of the pitfalls facing black youths when he got a football scholarship to South Carolina State University, he said.

After realizing the win Nov. 6, Roundtree acknowledged it was a big moment in Richmond County.

“Everyone in this room, everyone within the sound of my voice can say, ‘I was there when things changed in Augusta,’  ” he said.

Comments (3) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
seenitB4
98778
Points
seenitB4 12/26/12 - 07:04 am
2
0
Let us hope some things will change

“Everyone in this room, everyone within the sound of my voice can say, ‘I was there when things changed in Augusta,’  ” he said.

That sounds good Tree....but show us you can change the crime stats....I hope you can..

JRC2024
10600
Points
JRC2024 12/26/12 - 08:18 am
2
0
Sheriff Roundtree show us

Sheriff Roundtree show us that you can change the mindset of the black youth that are destroying their lives and a chance for any kind of decent life by doing the crimes that get them in jail. This goes for the white youth also. These type of people are not welcome in the black or white communities.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 12/27/12 - 03:10 pm
0
0
Steve Crawford

i dont understand "prohibitive favorite" being used in that context.

Back to Top
loading...
Search Augusta jobs