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Wednesday, 22 September 2010 18:54

Macon sheriffs race features two experienced officers

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Two veteran officers, Sheriff Robert Holland and George Lynch, are vying to fill Macon County’s top law-enforcement post.

The campaigns of both men have been remarkable. More for what isn’t happening rather than what has taken place. Both Holland, the incumbent, and Lynch, a former U.S. Forest Service law-enforcement officer, said they are intent on running clean, mudslinging-free campaigns.

And, to date, they have.

Holland, 43, a Republican, is in his second four-year term as sheriff. He joined the Macon County Sheriff’s Department in 1991. And made a steady climb to sheriff: animal-control officer, part-time detention officer, part-time deputy, fulltime deputy, investigator in the juvenile office, supervisor of that office, investigations unit.

Holland, not surprisingly, is running a campaign based on his experience.

“I’ve got eight years as sheriff,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot of programs going that have been a success.”

Holland said since being elected sheriff, he has placed a major emphasis on combating illegal drugs and the crimes associated with them.

“I’ve really encouraged community involvement,” he said. “People in the community know their neighbor better than we do.”

The Democrat party’s candidate, Lynch, 62, like Holland, has emphasized his experience in law enforcement. He has a military background that includes one year as a military policeman for the National Guard. Fourteen years were spent as a federal officer for the Forest Service, where Lynch investigated, prepared and shepherded through trial more than 200 cases.

Lynch hinted at two areas where his administration would differ from Holland’s. One is more visible patrols in remote areas.

Lynch said he believes the primary duty of a patrol officer is the “protection of life and property,” not traffic control, though he would still want deputies to put the brakes on reckless drivers and drunken drivers.

“Officers need to be seen day and night from the city limits to the most remote areas of the county,” he said, “checking on the security of private property, businesses, churches, schools, homes, nonresidential houses and developments.”

Because of the geographic distance of Highlands and Nantahala from Franklin, Lynch said he wants fulltime deputies assigned to both communities.

He said he does not like “sensational drug busts” in which “buyers and dealers are allowed to continue to buy, sell and ruin lives until one can charge large numbers at once for publicity purposes.”

Lynch said he would strongly consider entering drug taskforce agreements with other agencies rather than use the go-it-alone approach “now in place.”

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