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Candidates lineup for a shot on Swain sheriff ballot

Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran will have an easy primary season, with no Republicans challenging his bid for a third term in office. But four Democratic challengers are fighting it out during the primary. Here’s a look at those candidates:


Chuck McMahan, 53

Qualifications: Retired North Carolina Highway Patrol seargeant. In addition to a 27-year career with the highway patrol, McMahan spent time working with the Hickory Police Department and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department.

Reason for seeking office: “I think I have the experience and training to make Swain County Sheriff’s Department a professional organization.”

Favorite fruit: apple

Favorite meat: Ribeye

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Favorite album/artist: “Marshall Tucker Band’s Greatest Hits”

Childhood hero: His grandpa. “He was a gentleman, he was kind and he treated everybody well.”


George Powell, 47

Qualifications: Logistics, Caterpillar Inc. Spent eight years with the Waynesville Police Department, as well as working in both juvenile and adult correctional facilities. 

Reason for seeking office: “I want to know people, I want to know their views. I want to get everyone involved with the sheriff’s department itself so we can better serve the community.”

Favorite fruit: peach

Favorite meat: Ribeye

Favorite album/artist: Beethoveen

Childhood hero: Dave Williams, Swain County’s sheriff when Powell was a kid. “He was always kind and took time for us as children. He was part of my inspiration. I always wanted to be like him.”


Larry Roland, 53

Qualifications: Night bookkeeper at Microtel Hotel. Spent time working as a sheriff’s deputy in both Swain and Jackson counties, and also worked for the Georgia Department of Corrections and Swain County EMS.

Reason for seeking office: “Accountable to all, beholden to none. The sheriff and his department is accountable to everyone in the community, and beholden to none because I’m not in anybody’s pocket, if you get what I mean.”

Favorite fruit: strawberry

Favorite meat: Ribeye

Favorite album/artist: Hank Williams, Jr.

Childhood hero: His granddad, Rev. Fred Roland. “Because he stood for what was right, he was a good God-fearing man, you might say.”


Rocky Sampson, 54

Qualifications: Retired from the Tennessee Valley Authority Police and past stints with the Swain and Graham county sheriff’s office.

Reason for seeking office: “I promise when elected, I will bring professionalism to the agency and a dedicated service to the people of our county.”

Favorite fruit: banana

Favorite meat: pork

Favorite album/artist: John Cougar [Mellencamp]

Childhood hero: Superman 

* An unaffiliated candidate Odell Chastain, a retired law enforcement officer, is also running for Swain sheriff, but he doesn’t have a primary.

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