Candidates for sheriff to battle in GOP primary
JACKSON COUNTY -- A pair of Jackson County elections will highlight the Democratic and Republican primaries on May 8. Republican candidates will square off in Jackson County sheriff’s election and two Democrats will meet for the Jackson County Clerk of Court position.
Republican candidates Doug Farmer and Brent McMahan will see who will get to meet Democratic incumbent, Sheriff Chip Hall, in November in the race for Jackson County Sheriff. Hall is completing his first term of office after being elected in 2014.
Democratic incumbent Ann Melton and Kim Poteet will battle it out for the office of Jackson County Clerk of Superior Court. Since there is no Republican challenger, the winner of the May 8 primary will become Clerk of Court. Candidates Melton and Poteet will be featured in a future edition of the Crossroads Chronicle.
In the Republican sheriff’s primary, a pair of longtime law enforcement veterans meet for the right to go up against Hall. McMahan, 41, from Scott’s Creek, is currently the bailiff and a patrol officer in the Swain County Sheriff’s Office, and Farmer, 54, from Dillsboro, is a detective in the Sylva Police Department.
Both candidates said they will bring a fresh voice to Jackson County law enforcement, and both Farmer and McMahan said the time is right for a change in Jackson County law enforcement leadership.
McMahan, a graduate of Haywood Community College with basic law enforcement training is an eight-year veteran of law enforcement, and said he wants to stem the tide of what he believes to be increasing drug activity and lack of protection in schools in Jackson County.
“This present administration has been too little, too late on prevention,” McMahan said. “Jackson County has been reactive rather than proactive. It’s time for law enforcement to become proactive.”
Farmer, the recipient of several advanced law enforcement certifications and other professional qualifications, has more than 20-years experience in law enforcement. Farmer said he believes he can bring some fresh ideas to the table, based on a career of law enforcement experience.
“I’ve held supervisory roles over the course of my law enforcement career and believe I can bring some fresh ideas to the table,” Farmer said.
Both McMahan and Farmer believe their two biggest challenges facing them if elected are drugs in Jackson County and student safety in schools.
“For schools and law enforcement, this has been a learning experience,” Farmer said. “Thankfully, the incidents have been benign, but we need to be better prepared as law enforcement officers.”
As for the drugs
situation in Jackson County, Farmer said it has been worse in the last four years than it’s ever been in his lifetime.
“We need to develop a community watch and community policing programs,” he said. “We need to become more of a community presence. I pride myself in being more than a face in a patrol car.”
McMahan calls the drug situation in Jackson County worse than it’s ever been, and needs to be rectified soon or it will be too late.
“The infestation of drugs into the county has been at an all-time high,” he said. “We need to slow down the drugs coming into the county, which in turn feeds the rest of Western North Carolina. We need to take a stance now. If we don’t do something soon we will lose the county.”
A former school resource officer, McMahan said the county should increase its SRO presence in schools.
“With the increase in incidents in schools around the country, children safety in our schools is a big concern,” he said. “A lot of the problems regarding student safety are caught before they become a problem because of school resource officers. The SRO works with the (Department of Social Services) and can head off a problem with domestic situations and families before they escalate into a crisis.”
Both candidates are strongly supportive of having more than one deputy on duty in Cashiers.
“One officer in Cashiers is unacceptable,” McMahan said. “Any kind of backup is at least 20 minutes away.”
“These officers need backup,” Farmer said. “They can’t do a good job alone. One officer is at a risk, especially when involved in drug interdictions.”
Farmer also said Jackson County should explore the new law that allows mutual aid agreements with private security companies, such as Blue Ridge Public Safety.
“We need more officers throughout the county,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re with the city, or county, or private. We’re all on the same team.”
McMahan said his chances are great in the upcoming primary and next fall in the general election.
“I think the people of Jackson County are ready for a change.”
Jackson County GOP head Ralph Slaughter said both candidates for sheriff are quality, bona fide candidates he believes would mount a formidable challenge against the incumbent in November.
“The Republican party would be pleased with either of these candidates as sheriff,” Slaughter said. “They both have extensive law enforcement backgrounds.”
Slaughter added that now would be a good time to end the Democratic stronghold on Jackson County law enforcement.
“There hasn’t been a Republican sheriff in Jackson County since the 1800s,” he said. “I think these two candidates are remarkable candidates.”
Name: Doug Farmer.
Resides in: Dillsboro
Current position: Detective, Sylva Police Department.
Family: Wife Regina, and three kids, Taylor 20, Dawson 9, and Isabella 4.
Education and experience: Advanced law enforcement certification with 20-years experience, which includes detention officer, patrol officer, sergeant and detective with multiple law enforcement agencies. Experience with Macon County Sheriff’s Office, Highlands Police Department, International Police Liaison Service and Sylva Police Department.
Reasons for running: “I have 20 years of experience in law enforcement. I’ve risen from the bottom ranks to the top. I bring a fresh face and fresh ideas to the table. I feel the time is right for a change of leadership in Jackson County.”
Two biggest challenges if elected: Drug use is definitely the worst I’ve ever seen it in my lifetime, and improving school safety. For schools and law enforcement this has been a learning experience. We need School Resource Officers in our schools.”
Name: Brent McMahan.
Resides in: Scotts Creek.
Current Position: Bailiff and Patrolman Swain County Sheriff’s Office.
Family: Wife Reba and son Spencer, 10.
Education and experience: Haywood Community College alum with law enforcement training. Eight-years experience in law enforcement, which includes stints as a detention officer, school resource officer, bailiff and patrol officer. Other experience includes civil process officer. McMahan has worked for both Jackson County and Swain County Sheriff’s offices.
Reason for running: “We are reactive in Jackson County as opposed to being proactive. Law enforcement needs to be proactive. We need to take a stance in Jackson County. If we don’t do something soon we will lose the county.”
Two biggest challenges if elected: Stemming the tide of drugs into Jackson County and student safety in schools. “The drug situation in Jackson County is at an all-time high, and an increased school resource officer presence can head off a situation before it becomes a problem.”