Although qualifying isn’t until May, campaigning for the Bulloch County Sheriff’s race already has begun.
Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson is challenged by two former Georgia State Patrol troopers, Keith Howard and Tommy Sisson.
Howard began placing campaign signs weeks ago, while both Sisson and Anderson have only recently been making visible moves in the race. Now signs showing support for all three candidates can be seen throughout the county.
Howard said he is running for the position because there are several areas in which he would like to see change.
Concerns with jail operations arose during conversations with “lawyers and people with family members” in the jail, he said. Also, he said “when people come in the front office, I want people there who can tell them where the sheriff is, not just that he is not there.”
He said he disagrees with the amount of radar use and speeding tickets written by the sheriff’s department. “As many thefts and burglaries as we have, deputies need to be riding the back roads.”
Howard also said the sheriff’s investigations division "needs some help.”
Anderson said he feels his department has a strong track record with solving robbery, burglary and other major cases.
“I think we have a pretty good record over the last 12 years (he has been in office),” he said. “If you look at all we have done, that has been reported in the news, we have been very proactive.”
Under his leadership, the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Department has created user-friendly modes of communication such as a Facebook page, website, tip lines, crime mapping and more, he said.
“Patrols are up, and we have been working with legislators on a metal theft bill.” If he is reelected, “I will try to keep doing the great job we’re doing.”
Sisson said he was not going to address what has been done under the current leadership, adding that he intends to run a clean campaign without criticism.
”I’m not going to sit here and tell you what is wrong — I’m going to tell you what I’ll do” should he be elected, he said.
Accessibility, cooperation with other agencies, and community involvement are areas he hopes to address if elected.
“I would bring a cooperative leadership style based on one thing — to always do the right thing,” he said.
Another point Howard mentioned is that he would like to see a satellite office in the Brooklet area.
“I’d like to see it back like it was in the Arnold Ray Akins, Paul Nevil, Harold Howell days,” he said, calling the names of former sheriffs who served before Anderson. “But, with 21st century technology.”
Anderson said he has been with the sheriff’s department for 32 years, all under leadership of Akins, who he said was his mentor.
“Are we perfect? No, but we try to be,” he said of his department and employees. “I would like to continue to serve the people of Bulloch County.” That includes continuing projects such as DARE programs for students and the Child ID program.
Again, Sisson said, “I plan to run a clean race. I’m not going to be negative. I’ll just tell people what I will do as sheriff.” That includes having a strong presence in the schools, in the community, and being accessible to the public. “Under my leadership we would work with all public safety agencies, making sure our office would coordinate and work with them to ensure the people and property of Bulloch County is protected to the fullest extent.”
Howard said, “I want people to feel like it is their department.”
Howard retired from the Georgia State Patrol, where he worked for most of his 20 years in law enforcement. He enjoyed a year-long stint as Jenkins County Sheriff’s chief deputy before returning to the GSP, where he later retired after a shoulder injury. He is married and he and wife Gail have a son and a daughter. He owns Bulloch Port-a-Potty.
Sisson and his wife Molly have three children. He retired from the Georgia State Patrol in January in order to run for sheriff and served more than 30 years with the GSP, Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office and Statesboro Fire Department. He is on staff at Pittman Park United Methodist Church.
Anderson and his wife Becky have two adult children and two grandchildren. He has been with the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Department for 32 years, and has no other employment. "I don’t have the time,” he said.
All three candidates are Republicans. The sheriff’s race is a partisan race.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.