Sheriff candidate calls for change
By John Joyce
Published in News on May 27, 2014 1:46 PM
Glenn Barnes, candidate for sheriff of Wayne County, talks about his qualifications for the job. Barnes has 30 years experience in law enforcement. He faces incumbent Larry Pierce in the fall election.
Democrat Glenn Barnes sees room for improvement in the department he wishes to head up next year.
The candidate for Wayne County sheriff said he expects it would take three terms to accomplish all the things he will set out to do in office -- changes he was denied the opportunity to make after he lost his last run for office to incumbent Carey Winders.
Winders died in January. The Wayne County commissioners appointed Larry Pierce, a fellow Republican, to fill out the remainder of his term. Winders was set to run for re-election this fall. Pierce has filed to keep his seat.
Both Barnes and Pierce have said they seek to run a clean campaign.
Barnes is running on a platform of transparency and public input, he said.
"Making myself and everybody in the sheriff's office available, and responding to the needs of the citizens will make (the department) transparent. Everybody will know where the money is going," he said.
People will then know how and where their tax dollars are being spent and will have a say in those expenditures, "up to an extent," he said.
Barnes said he believes that drugs are the root cause behind much of the crime in Wayne County, and he plans to attack that from the outset.
Barnes said his training is more comprehensive than that of his opponent in the upcoming election, which better suits him for the position.
"I have had training in patrol techniques, supervision, arson and major case investigations," he said.
He said he implemented and served on the Goldsboro Police Department's tactical team, worked both the patrol and investigative sides of the department, and achieved the rank of captain, serving on the department's command staff.
Barnes said his 30 years of active law enforcement experience trumps Pierce's 12 or so years.
"The rest of that time he has been a special deputy. He's just been investigating fires," Pierce said.
Barnes also served as a special deputy with Wayne County for a time.
How that term of employment ended is in dispute.
Barnes claims that he tried to resign his post after losing the election to Winders, but that he got a letter in the mail from Winders later saying that he was terminated instead.
The sheriff has that authority, he said.
Barnes has many criticisms of the Winders administration.
He said under Winders, a conglomerate was formed at the top of the organization. It is something he would like to see changed.
"I think any organization that stays under the same leadership for a long period of time has a tendency to start forming their own rules, doing things their way and building up their power base. They have a tendency to become stagnant, and I think new leadership will prevent that from happening," he said.
That, he said, is why he would step aside after three terms.
"I feel like I need at least eight years, but I would love to have more than that," he said.
An observation period would precede any changes he might implement. He is not just going to walk in and clean house, he said.
"Obviously I can't answer the calls by myself," Barnes said.
He said he would like to interview each one of the deputies to find out what they are doing, how they feel about what they are doing and what each of them think they could be doing differently.
"You might have a guy serving warrants who is just dying to go over to the civil division, or a guy on the road who wants to go into investigations," he said.
Barnes said he believes if you put someone where they would be the happiest, they would be the most productive.
Rumors about his intentions to clean house hurt his chances last time out, Barnes said.
He said wants to make it clear early this time that is not his intention.
What helps his chances most, Barnes said, is that the political divide is all but nonexistent in this campaign.
"Based on the voting records, 2012 is the first time Larry Pierce voted as a Republican. He was a Democrat up until then," he said.
A call to the Wayne County Board of Elections shed light on the claim.
Larry Pierce registered with the Republican Party in August 2011, according to county records.
"Pierce had been registered as unaffiliated up until that point, although he has selected on the ballot to vote Democrat in some primary elections," Board of Elections Director Rosemary Blizzard said.
And although he brought up the challenge to Pierce's party affiliation, Barnes said a letter behind the name does not make the person.
Barnes said he believes the office of sheriff should be nonpartisan.