With people already early voting and the polls set to close Nov. 3, Classic City News asked two basic questions of the candidates for Clarke County Sheriff, John Q. Williams (D), a sergeant with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department and Robert Hare (R), a sergeant with the Sheriff's Office:
With the election just a week away, please tell voters who have no dealings with the jail or criminal justice system why it matters to them who runs the Sheriff's Office, and why you are the person for the job?
The foundation of my campaign platform is treating people with dignity and respect. Any discussion on how my being Sheriff affects the community begins there. I would like people to realize that the criminal justice system affects everyone, regardless of whether or not they have direct contact with the courts or jail. The time to be concerned about the justice system is not when they or a loved one are accused of a crime. If you live in a community, but do not fear crime, that is a product of the criminal justice system. Anyone could be a victim of crime, so it is important to take an interest in the safety of the community, and who you elect as Sheriff plays a big role in that. Sheriffs should be accountable to the public, but also develop true partnerships with the communities they serve. Programs to reduce recidivism are essential. Programs to engage the youth in productive activities like sports, the fine arts, or community involvement benefit the community and develop future leaders.
My administration will be one that brings about true reform, helps to build our community and make it safe, and shows unprecedented levels of transparency. I have a strong connection and commitment to this community. I have the connections in the community and other agencies to build relationships that bring key players together for the betterment of all of Clarke County. I will be a Sheriff for the people, all people, and I will work with Athens-Clarke County Police, UGA police, the School District Police, the District Attorney, and all stakeholders to make and keep Clarke County safe. I have the knowledge, skills, and leadership to change the culture of law enforcement and make much needed reforms in the office and in the community.
The Clarke County Sheriff’s race is by far the most important race on the local election ballot. The community should look at both candidates and their plans for the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and the community. I believe that I am the better candidate. I am a 10-year Marine Corps veteran, 17-year career law enforcement officer, a paralysis survivor, and importantly, a husband and father to seven amazing children.
I served with the Sheriff’s Office for just over nine years. During that time, I have worked in the jail, courts, and the field serving criminal warrants and civil papers. Prior to that, I also worked in a federal prison and youth detention center. I have the experience needed to run the highest liability for the Sheriff, the jail. I have trained and worked in every position in the jail and know exactly how to fix and/or enhance the operations within. Working in the courthouse, both at the security checkpoints and the courtrooms, I have effective ideas that will increase the security for all that walks in the door. Whether it be the staff or the community, everyone should feel safe in the Courthouse. During my time in the Warrant/Civil section, I have repeatedly voiced my ideas on how things can be run more efficiently and effectively. Especially, when it comes to serving the serious and violent criminal warrants. Under my leadership, I will put those ideas in action. Victims of those crimes should not have to wait to have their accuser(s) get taken into custody. In addition to having actual working experience, I have attended numerous training classes throughout the State of Georgia and in our local government. This enabled me to enhance my career and my ability to further lead a group of deputies when I was promoted to Sergeant, returning to the Jail as an assistant watch commander.
Your next Sheriff needs to know the difference between the Sheriff’s Office and the Police Department. One can’t bring police style ideas into the Sheriff’s Office. Unlike my opponent, I know what is happening in the agency and don’t need a “committee” to tell me the issues. My plan is strong, original, and effective for the Sheriff’s Office and the community. Much of my plan can be implemented within the first three months of taking office. And the best part of my plan is, it won’t increase the budget one penny.
I extremely loved working with the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and serving our community. I look forward to returning as your next Sheriff of Clarke County. I encourage everyone to look at my webpage (hare4sheriff.com) and review my story and my plan. I would be honored and humbled to earn your vote on November 3rd.