District attorney, sheriff candidates square off at forum

Thu, 07/03/2008 - 1:35pm
By: John Thompson

District attorney, sheriff candidates square off at forum

Nearly 100 residents turned out Tuesday night for a spirited debate among the candidates for the District Attorney and Fayette County Sheriff’s race.

The prosecutors were the first under the glare of the lights of the meeting room at the Fayette County Public Library. Several of the questions concerned District Attorney Scott Ballard’s first term of office. When asked about his office’s prosecution of out of county students attending Fayette County school, Ballard said this was new ground.

“It’s important that we try and get the money back, because $3,500 of your tax money goes to educate each student in the system,” said Ballard.

He also aid the prosecutor’s office was also dealing with a new issue in prosecuting Internet predators.

“We went in not knowing if the statute would be upheld,” Ballard said when questioned about the number of offenders who have received probation.

But challenger Rudjard Hayes was quick to point out the distinction between him and Ballard.

“I’m opposed to probation. You have got to lock these people up,” he said.

Hayes also pointed out another difference between the candidates.

“I have never been turned over on appeal,” he added.

When questioned about whether he prosecuted alleged gang members from Fayette County harder than he did youths in Peachtree City, Ballard said he was equal in his prosecution techniques. Hayes also added that he was colorblind when it came to making cases against individuals.

Both candidates pledged to work with community leaders and try and get the message out the committing a crime in the county leads to repercussions.

“Most of our crime comes from outside the county,” said Ballard.

“Racial profiling should not be happening,” added Hayes.

After the district attorney candidates were grilled, the sheriff candidates stepped up to the plate. All the candidates stressed their experience for the position. Dave Simmons alluded to his being chief of staff for a 4.500 member police department in Detroit, while Barry Babb explained that he had supervised a division and been “on the street” for more than 20 years. Thomas Mindar said he was the same age that Randall joghnson was when he was elected, and advocated a more tough approach on criminals.

“We need the chain gang back,” he said.

Wayne Hannah said that he had been working with the department since Johnson came aboard and had done numerous budgets, along with supervising the traffic division.

One of the more controversial questions was posed to Hannah concerning whether he would keep his wife employed at the department if he was elected sheriff.

“What am I supposed to do? Get rid of a 21-year employees? he asked.

Babb quipped that issue would not apply to him since his wife worked in banking.

The candidates were also asked what the first 100 days would look like if elected.

Simmons said he wanted to meet personally with each member of the staff and evaluate current operations, while Babb said he wanted to see if a reallocation of resources could be done to put more cops on the street. Mindar said he would focus on deterrence, while Hannah also said he wanted to do an inventory of all the assets in the department.

The candidates also had a lively discussion on gang activity in the county.

While Hannah said there was some gang activity in the county, he emphasized organized gang activity was not yet in the county. Simmons disputed the issue.

“A wannabe is a gonna-be,” he said.

Mindar said one gang member was one too many, while Babb countered that more officers on the street would be a deterrence to any gang activity.

The next forum featuring the sheriff candidates is set for July 10 at 7 p.m. at the Fayette County Public Library and is sponsored by the Republican Party.

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Submitted by sas on Sat, 07/05/2008 - 12:40pm.

Rudjard is not bashing his opponent, he has nothing personal against Ballard. Rudjard has a different "vision" as D.A. and I for one support and will vote for Rudjard July 15th

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