Haywood sheriff faces lone but experienced challenger in primary

Voters in the Democratic Primary in Haywood County must choose which of the two candidates profiled here will advance to the November election. Republican candidate Bill Wilke is running unopposed in the primary and will automatically advance.


Bobby Suttles, 65, Haywood County Sheriff

Suttles was appointed sheriff by the Democratic party in early 2009 after former Sheriff Tom Alexander retired mid-term. Before that, Suttles served as chief deputy — second in command of the 100-person Sheriff’s office — since 2003. Suttles has more than 35 years of experience as a law enforcement officer, including with the state highway patrol, Waynesville police department, and 15 years with the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office.

Suttles emphasizes his ability to work under a tight budget.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished probably the same amount of service, with less...I know my opponents, they may say they’re going to do this and do that, but ultimately you have to deal with the budget.”

Suttles said he’s also accomplished better cooperation among different departments within the Sheriff’s Office.

“New equipment is always on my mind,” said Suttles, who would like to see computers in deputy’s cars as well as tasers. He would also like to have more officers and new cars. Suttles is working to bring video arraignment to the county to save time spent on transporting prisoners to the courthouse.

He would also like to deputize police officers from town departments to increase cooperation on drug cases and pool together resources, like drug dogs. Another goal is to have an annex in the Canton area. Suttles is also in the process of securing more inmate labor.

For more information: www.suttlesforsheriff.com.


Dean Henline, 52, part-time police officer with town of Clyde

Henline served at the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office for 30 years before retiring in 2008. Henline has worked as a jailer, sergeant, and lieutenant over patrol, as well as a part-time policeman in Hazelwood.

Henline emphasizes that he’s had more experience in Haywood County’s Sheriff’s Office than the other two candidates running. Henline said if elected, the transition would be comfortable since he’s worked with deputies at the office his entire career. Henline added that he is very active during his shifts. “Neither candidate has the arrest record that I have,” Henline said.

Henline would like to increase the number of deputies working on the drug problem in Haywood County. “Haywood County needs this because we’re not the old Haywood County anymore that we grew up in. We’ve got some of the same problems they got in the big city.” Henline plans to apply for drug interdiction grants that can help purchase cars, equipment and pay salaries.

Henline would also like to fully equip deputy cars with computers so officers can file reports on the road and stay out on the field longer. Computers can also help deputies pull up files of those who have been arrested before on the spot.

When the budget situation improves, Henline would like to raise deputies’ salaries to stay competitive with surrounding counties. Henline would also like to see more officers working night shifts.

For more information: www.deanhenlineforsheriffcampaign.com

There is only one Republican candidate running for Haywood County Sheriff in the primary, which means he will automatically advance to the November election.


Bill Wilke, 40, Sgt. with Asheville City Police Department

Wilke has worked in law enforcement for 14 years, serves as major in the Army Reserves, is being promtoed to lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves and was a full-time training officer with the Army National Guard from 1997 to 2000. He currently is night sergeant for the Asheville police department and supervises nine to 12 officers.

Wilke recently returned from Iraq, where he served as a Major with the US Army in civil affairs.

Wilke said he came back from Iraq with a greater appreciation for the American way of life and resolved to contribute as much as he could to his home of Haywood County. He says the management and leadership skills he has developed over the years will benefit the Sheriff’s Office, especially in a budget-restrained environment.

Wilke’s first priority is to establish a joint drug task force in the county, which will help stop ancillary crimes. Since agencies can take 75 percent of the tax value of whatever drugs are seized, Wilke said clamping down on drugs will reduce crime as well as produce revenue.

Wilke sees a clear need to modernize, and says bringing computers and software will help use deputies more efficiently.

“I work with those cutting edge tools right now,” said Wilke. “I have a plan to implement then if I’m elected.”

Wilke says there is a need for additional deputies, but the Sheriff’s Office should first look at being more efficient with the dollars it does get from the county. As part of that effort, Wilke would like to see more usage of inmate labor.

For more information: www.wilkeforsheriff.com

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