Woodrow Fryer said he had to leave the Richmond County Sheriff's Department 14 years ago for a job at Savannah River Site because he wasn't making enough to support his pregnant wife.
If he becomes the county's next sheriff, Mr. Fryer said he would work to make sure no other officer has to do the same thing by giving deputies and department personnel a "living wage."
"We've got to look out for our citizens as well as our deputies," Mr. Fryer said.
On Thursday, Mr. Fryer took his first official step toward his goal when he qualified to run for sheriff at Richmond County Democrat Party headquarters.
As the youngest sheriff's candidate so far, Mr. Fryer, 37, said he would place a heavy emphasis on getting younger voters involved.
"That's my main concept, to get everyone involved," he said. "We need to get new blood involved."
Mr. Fryer spent two years with the sheriff's department as a road patrol deputy before taking a job in the fire protection maintenance department at the Savannah River Site.
He has also spent six years in the Marine Corps and is in his 14th year in the Air Force Reserve.
Encouraging deputies to undergo continuing education classes in criminal justice is another important issue for Mr. Fryer.
Mr. Fryer said he would not fire anyone who didn't have a criminal justice degree, but said there are many opportunities at area colleges that teach criminal justice to adopt or encourage a continuing education program.
"When you go to an eye doctor, you want to know that he's got the education and background to know what he's doing," Mr. Fryer said. "Why should it be any different in law enforcement? I want to make sure (citizens) are getting what they're paying for."
Mr. Fryer faces former Chief Deputy Ronnie Strength in the Democrat Primary on July 18.
Reach Mark Mathis at (706) 823-3227.