09/28/10 — Sheriff candidates square off at Grantham forum

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Sheriff candidates square off at Grantham forum

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 28, 2010 1:46 PM

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Candidates for local, state and national office speak at a forum Monday night at the Grantham Fire Station. The event was sponsored by the Grantham Grange.

GRANTHAM -- Nine candidates, most running unopposed, spoke at a forum Monday sponsored by the Grantham Grange.

Republican Sheriff Carey Winders and his Democratic challenger, Glenn Barnes, were the only candidates involved in a true contest.

In his speech, Barnes outlined some of his goals to improve the Sheriff's Office. Winders responded by saying that those goals have already been accomplished or are in the process of being done.

Barnes said that if elected he would first need a period of time to determine what changes should be made. He said he had heard complaints from some people that deputies took too long to respond to calls and appeared indifferent.

He said he would like to increase training, particularly in specialized areas, and said that the county should do a better job of utilizing the resources of the SBI and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Barnes questioned the expense of maintaining a helicopter, even though it is paid for with seized drug assets. He pointed out that the state Highway Patrol has a helicopter that can be called upon in an emergency.

He also suggested the creation of a mobile office and substations in outlying areas.

Winders said those issues have already been addressed.

"Most of what he said, we are already doing or have done it," Winders said. "Just this past week, we put digital cameras in the cars."

The county also has software in place that any law enforcement officer in the county can access, Winders said. Also, the office already has specialized training in place, such as fraud investigation, he said. And the sheriff noted that his office is limited in what it can do by how much money it has to spend.

"The economy is a big issue. We would like to see resource officers in middle schools. As you know, the dollar bill determines what you are going to be able to do," he said.

Winders said the county needs to continue evaluating its jail and looking for ways to keep the jail population at a minimum. He said one reason the jail is overcrowded is because of a system that has created a "revolving door" for criminals.

Winders denied that his deputies are indifferent in the execution of their duties. He said that in some cases, the deputies' hands are tied because of the law. For example, he said, a resident living in an unincorporated area of the county can stand in his yard and shoot a gun all night and there is nothing a deputy can do because there is no ordinance against it.

Other speakers at the event were school board candidates John Grantham, who is running unopposed for the District 4 seat.

He said the county should consider building another school in the southern part of the county. If the county keeps building new schools in the northern part of the county, those schools will become even more crowded because people want to live near new schools, he said.

Grantham added that one of the biggest issues the schools face is parents' lack of attention to such issues.

"You need to get involved and pay attention," he said. "If they try to put another school in front of Grantham, you need to be irate. You need to be vocal."

Arnold Flowers, who is opposing District 5 school board member George Moye, said he believes he can help bring some unity between the Board of Education and the Board of County Commissioners. Flowers is a former commissioner.

He said that as a commissioner, he and other commissioners had a difficult time with the central attendance area of Goldsboro because it had empty classrooms while the school board wanted to build new classrooms.

That could mean redrawing district lines, he said. Flowers said he is concerned that a judge might wind up making that decision for Wayne and that he would prefer that elected officials handle it.

Other speakers were incumbent District Attorney Branny Vickory, a Democrat, who is unopposed, state Rep. Efton Sager, a Republican, who also has no foe in November, and incumbent Clerk of Court Pam Minshew, a Democrat, who also has no opponent.

State Sen. David Rouzer, a Republican, who faces a challenge by Democrat Jody McLeod, said the state needs to reform its tax code to make it more equitable. Half the population is paying most of the state's taxes, Rouzer said.

"Fifty percent are pulling the wagon and 50 percent are riding," he said.

Also speaking were Court of Appeals Judge Barbara Jackson, who is seeking a seat on the state Supreme Court, and Darryl Holloman, a Libertarian seeking the 3rd District seat in Congress.