Sheriff candidates presented their credentials at GOP meeting

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The 2020 campaign season got off to an early start Monday when the Dawson County Republican Party invited the three candidates for sheriff – Sheriff Jeff Johnson, Jeff Perry and Marcus Sewell to introduce themselves to a packed house at The Bowen Art Center.

Former County Commission Chairman Mike Berg served as event moderator and each candidate was given 10 minutes to speak and a few minutes more to answer questions.

Johnson, who has 26 years’ law enforcement experience, took the lectern first.

His education includes graduating from Dawson County High School, University of North Georgia, Northeast Georgia Police Academy, Sheriff’s Select Academy, National Sheriffs Institute and 3,400 hours in specialized training.

Johnson encouraged voters to consider “true experience” when it comes to electing a sheriff. “The function of the sheriff’s office includes jail operations, court services, 911, patrol and investigations,” he said. “I’m thankful that throughout those 26 years of experience, I have been able to work in and serve each of those components.”

Johnson said one thing that has been a success during his first term is the focus on community programs. “I’m thankful to our citizens who have taken part in those. I still get to teach and take part in those and to empower our community.”

Johnson said the sheriff’s office has overcome internal conflicts and a mass exodus during his first year in office. “When I say mass exodus, we had over 20 employees leave and for a sheriff’s office of 115 employees at the time, that is pretty substantial. Still, we’ve been able to forge ahead and accomplish a lot of good things. One of those being we are a state certified law enforcement agency.”

Johnson also pointed to the state certified medical department within the jail system as an accomplishment. “Should something happen, it should serve to minimize any liability we have. We’ve also been able to better equip our officers with standard weapons, standard gear. We’re proud of our man and women and what they have been able to accomplish.”

Jeff Perry, who is making his second campaign for sheriff, has 30 years’ experience working for the state’s Pardons and Parole Board. After he retired, he started the Criminal Justice program at Dawson County and now teaches criminal justice at the school.  His comments focused on managing the budget and retention of deputies.

“It’s easy to manage a budget when you have the money,” he said. Perry said he managed a budget during the recession when his department could not only get additional money, but the governor took some money away.

“You have to adopt,” he said. “People have to take on additional roles. It takes strategic planning. The Dawson County Sheriff has to have a strategic plan that focuses on retention and recruitment of deputies and looks at future growth.”

Perry is a graduate of the certified public management course at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vincent Institute. “They reminded us that people don’t leave jobs because of money. They leave jobs because of bad leaders.  We have to identify those who are going to become capable leaders and promote those from within instead of promoting bad people who perform bad behavior.”

Perry also said if he is elected he would start an educational allotment that rewards employees five percent for a four-year college degree and an additional five percent for graduate degree.  We have to award those people who go above and beyond.”

Sewell started his law enforcement career in 2004, working at the state prison in Alto where he was promoted up to the rank of Sergeant. In 2009, he went to work in the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office. From then on his career took off.

“In 2011, I became jail commander then I was over Special Services which does narcotics, canine, victims’ advocate and school resource officers. For the last four years, I’ve been Chief Investigator over Criminal Investigations.”

“Over the last eight years as Commander, I’ve managed the jail budget which is half the sheriff’s office,” he said. “You have to learn to control your budget. Every penny, nickel, dime and dime we spend is your tax money.”

“We’ve got to realize we can’t sue the county” he said in reference to Johnson’s failed lawsuit against the Board of Commissioners that cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

“We can’t increase the budget every year,” he said. “We’ve got to work and compromise. In the last two and a half years, the budget went up 18.5 percent.

“In Lumpkin County we have 33,000 residents our budget is $5.8 million. In Dawson County the budget is $9 million with 24,500 people.” With that kind of budget, he said, there is no reason the county can’t put 8 or 9 people on patrol instead of five.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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2020 Dawson County sheriff’s race beginning to take shape

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Captain Marcus Sewell

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Two potential challengers for Dawson County Sheriff in 2020 have emerged. Jeff Perry, a veteran parole officer, officially tossed his hat into the ring last week and Capt. Marcus Sewell, Chief of the Investigations Division in Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office, is expected to announce his campaign next week.

Perry ran against Johnson in the 2016 election and finished third in a four-candidate race. He, of course, hopes to do better this time around.

In making his announcement last week, Perry said, “I am running for Sheriff to serve the citizens of Dawson County because there is nothing more important to me than keeping our families safe, and bringing capable leadership to the top law enforcement position in the county.”

Jeff Perry

Sewell has not made an official announcement but there are campaign-style signs appearing on social media that indicate he soon will. He is a veteran law enforcement officer widely known in Dawson County. He is a graduate of Dawson County High School and served as a deputy for longtime Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle.

Johnson has had a troubled first term as sheriff. In his first year he sued the Board of Commissioners in an effort to get more money for his 2018 budget. He lost the lawsuit and alienated county commissioners and other county officials in the process. Most of them have said privately they want to see Johnson defeated.

Commissioners have also been angered by Johnson’s insistence on hiring someone to handle sheriff’s office finances, a service the county could provide at no additional cost to taxpayers.

The new candidates are almost certain to attack Johnson on his wasteful spending. The unsuccessful lawsuit cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Embarrassingly, Johnson learned at the end of that budget year, he had nearly $500,000 remaining that he failed to spend. That money could have been used to give deputies a well-deserved pay raise. Instead, it went back into the county’s general fund.

Johnson has also attracted a great deal of negative publicity for personnel issues within the sheriff’s office. For example, in 2018 three detention officers were arrested – two for domestic violence issues and another for unlawful sexual relationship with a female prisoner. That same year, an entire night patrol of on-duty officers was discovered playing badminton and leaving the county unprotected. And, in May 2019, a computer aided dispatch report showed that one sergeant refused to report to the scene of an accident for more than six hours.

The election is still a year away, but the campaign is right around the corner.

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Jeff Perry announces campaign for Dawson County Sheriff

News

PRESS RELEASE

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Today, Retired Chief and 27-year law enforcement
veteran, Jeff Perry, officially announced his campaign for Dawson County Sheriff in
2020. Perry presently teaches Criminal Justice in the Dawson County School System. Perry was tasked with starting a Criminal Justice Program in Dawson County. Perry started the program two years ago, he teaches Intro to Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice Essentials and Criminal Investigations to Junior High and High School Students

Said Perry, “I am excited to announce my campaign for Sheriff. My family and I have deep-roots here in Dawson County. I am running for Sheriff to serve the citizens of Dawson County because there is nothing more important to me than keeping our families safe, and bringing capable leadership to the top law enforcement position in the county.”

“I believe I can bring a depth of experience to the Sheriff’s Office that is unmatched,
with 27 years of experience in law enforcement, tough decision making and experience with managing a budget and staff.

Perry served as Chief for 19 years over an area that consisted of seven (7) rural and urban counties and three offices in Northeast Georia. Said Perry, “I promise to bring effective leadership, employee accountability and fiscal responsibility to the office of Sheriff.”
Perry stressed his record of managing during tough economic times, “I often thought my name was “Do more with less” because I heard it so much.”

Perry stated, “As an elected official, capable management of tax payer dollars should be one of the highest priorities.” As Sheriff I will ensure taxpayer dollars fund agency missions instead of expensive overruns and failed planning. I will not ask for additional monies until every tax payer dollar is accounted for. The job of Sheriff is too important to leave to the inexperienced or to those who may lack the vision and leadership to effectively do the job.”

Perry plans to initiate a fierce anti-drug campaign through education and enforcement.   “As foster parents, Lisa and I have seen first hand the effects of drugs on innocent children and families,” he said.

Perry’s message to drug dealers, “If you sell, possess or push drugs in Dawson County we will arrest you.”

A high priority will be working with the accountability courts such as Drug Court, DUI Court and Family Court. Perry stated that open communication with the community is vital and as Sheriff, Perry promises to keep the community informed and engaged regarding crime and developments in Dawson County. Perry feels it’s important to seek community input if nothing more than to ascertain how the department is doing.

Perry plans to set aside one day a month for citizens. Citizens Day, as Perry called it, will be an opportunity for members of the community to come in and meet with the Sheriff, no appointments needed, Perry said on Citizens Day he will be in the office at 7:00 AM and stay till 7:00 PM, in an effort to meet with all citizens that come in that day. Perry stated he would also conduct quarterly meetings or town hall meetings with the citizens. Perry stated that he would go into local communities, sub-divisions, etc. to discuss with citizens safety tips, security suggestions and department news.

“I ask for your trust, your prayers and your vote so I can put my decades of experience to work to protect and serve you, the people of Dawson County as your Sheriff,” continued Perry.

Perry stated he would be discussing his strategic plan with citizens in the upcoming months.

More about Jeff Perry:
Jeff Perry served as a Parole Officer with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles for 27 years. For the last 19 years, he served as a Chief. At his retirement Perry was one of the longest serving Chiefs in the agency. As Chief, Perry managed a large district area consisting of 7 rural and urban counties where he worked to achieve top goals—chief among them: keeping our families safe. Perry has been responsible for working in conjunction with multiple Sheriffs Offices, Police Departments, Drug Task Forces, managing a staff of employees, devising strategic plans, managing budgets and directing day-to-day operations.

As noted, Perry started a Criminal Justice Program for Junior High and High School students. He completed his teaching certification while developing and teaching the Criminal Justice Program in Dawson County. The program is one of only a few in Northeast GA. Perry also served as a Junior High Assistant Basketball Coach in 2018-19.

Perry’s experience in law enforcement is unmatched. He completed law enforcement basic training in 1990 and has completed over 1600 hours of training since that time. His training hours have been focused in the areas of tactical communications, improvised explosive devices, Georgia Criminal Law, Georgia Constitution Law, Gangs, Drug ID/Clandestine Drug Labs, Anti-Terrorism, VIP Protective Operations and Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. Perry is a Post Certified Firearms Instructor and an Adjunct Instructor. Perry was chosen to serve on numerous federal, state and local task forces and was assigned to the 1996 Olympic Law Enforcement Team SOLEC (State Olympic Law Enforcement Command) and as a law enforcement supervisor for the 2004 G-8 Summit of World Leaders. Perry led a team of state officers and Atlanta Police Department officers during G-8. Perry previously worked on a US Marshall’s Sex Offender Task Force. He has been involved with CART (Child Abduction Response Team).

Jeff earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia Southern
University and has completed Post-Graduate Coursework. Perry completed his Internship with the Statesboro Police Department were he was assigned to the Patrol and Detective Divisions. Perry completed the Certified Public Managers Program through the Carl Vinson Institute at UGA and has completed numerous leadership and professional classes, including Leadership Dawson. Perry and his office have been recognized with numerous individual and officer awards.

Perry and his wife, Lisa, have been married for 30 years and are the proud parents of two grown children, Jacob Perry and Jade Perry. Perry and his wife, Lisa, have also been involved with foster parenting in our community. Lisa retired in 2019 as the Chief Human Resources Officer for the Dawson County School System. Jeff and Lisa Perry are committed to our community. Jeff Perry is an active member of Liberty Baptist Church in Dawson County where he is a Deacon and currently serves as the Chairman of the Deacon Board. He has served as a youth director, Sunday school teacher, property trustee, and as Sunday School Superintendent. Jeff is a former Jaycee, a charter member of the Dawsonville Civitan Club and a long-time youth community coach for soccer, basketball, baseball and softball. Perry holds or has held past memberships in the following professional affiliations The GA Sheriff Association, Peace Officers of GA, Parole Association of GA, National Major Gang Task Force, National Rifle Association (NRA), Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the Dawson County Republican Party.

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Dawson Elections Chief Pleased with Early Turnout

News, Politics

DAWSONVILLE — With the May 24th General Primary election day fast approaching, Director of Elections and Registration Glenda Ferguson and her staff have been kept busy during the advanced voting period.

“So far, as of 9 a.m. Friday, 990 ballots have been cast for an average of about 100 per day,” Ferguson said. “I always want to see more, but I’ve been very pleased with the turnout so far. ”

Ferguson said in 2012, about 40 percent of the county’s 15,800 voters waited until election day to cast a ballot. If that percentage holds true this year, total turnout could approach 8,000.

Among the key races to be decided are Dawson County Sheriff where Tony Wooten, Jeff Johnson, Jeff Perry and Frank Sosebee are the candidates.

Voters must also decide who will fill the Ninth District Congressional seat currently held by Doug Collins. Collins is facing a serious challenge from former 10th District Congressman Paul Broun, Lanier Tea Party Patriots founder Mike Scupin, White County educator Roger Fitzpatrick and retired Army and National Guard Brigadier General Bernie Fontaine.

At the state level, District 51 State Senator Steve Gooch of Dahlonega is being challenged by John Williamson, co-founder of the Gilmer County Tea Party.

Locally, voters must fill two vacant seats on the Board of Commissioners after Chairman Mike Berg and District 2 Commissioner James Swafford decided not to run again.

Bill Thurmond and Peter J. Hill will compete for the Chairman’s seat and Chris Gaines and Tim Davis are the candidates in District 2. In District 4, incumbent Julie Nix has drawn a challenge from Heather Hulsebus, former Chairwoman of the Dawson County Republican Party.

The Tax Commissioner race features four candidates, Andi Henson Juliette, Karin McKee, Johnny Glass and Nicole Stewart.

No Democrats have qualified in any of the races, so the winner of the General Primary will take office in January.

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Advanced Voting Begins Monday in Dawson County

News, Politics

DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. — After months of political campaigns, voters will have a chance to vote for their favorite federal, state and local candidates when advanced voting begins Monday (May 2) in Dawson County in the May 24 General Primary.

Advance voting runs through May 20 (Mon. – Fri.). All advanced voting takes place at the Dawson County Board of Elections Office, 96 Academy Avenue, Dawsonville.

At stake at the federal level is the Ninth District Congressional seat where incumbent Republican Congressman Doug Collins has come under fire from conservatives for his support of President Obama’s Omnibus bill and former House Speaker John Boehner. The challengers are former 10th District Congressman Paul Broun, Lanier Tea Party Patriots founder Mike Scupin, White County educator Roger Fitzpatrick and retired Army and National Guard Brigadier General Bernie Fontaine.

At the state level, District 51 State Senator Steve Gooch of Dahlonega faces a strong challenge from John Williamson, co-founder of the Gilmer County Tea Party.

Locally, voters must fill two vacant seats on the Board of Commissioners after Chairman Mike Berg and District 2 Commissioner James Swafford decided not to run again. Bill Thurmond and Peter J. Hill will compete for the Chairman’s seat and Chris Gaines and Tim Davis are the candidates in District 2. In District 4, incumbent Julie Nix has drawn a challenge from Heather Hulsebus, former Chairwoman of the Dawson County Republican Party.

There is also a four-way race to replace retiring Sheriff Billy Carlisle and all four candidates have many years of experience in law enforcement. The candidates are Frank Sosebee, Jeff Johnson, Jeff Perry and Tony Wooten.

The Tax Commissioner race also features four candidates, Andi Henson Juliette, Karin McKee, Johnny Glass and Nicole Stewart.

No Democrats have qualified in any of the races, so the winner of the General Primary will take office in January.

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Tuesday is Deadline to Register for May Primary

News, Politics

DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. — Much is at stake in state and local elections May 24 but you can’t vote if you’re not registered and the last day to register is Tuesday, April 26.

One of the most important races is in the 9th District where incumbent U.S. Congressman Doug Collins of Gainesville has come under fire from conservatives for his support of President Obama’s Omnibus bill. His challengers include former 10th District Congressman Paul Broun, Lanier Tea Party Patriots founder Mike Scupin, White County educator Roger Fitzpatrick and retired Army and National Guard Brigadier General Bernie Fontaine.

State Senator Steve Gooch of Dahlonega is running for reelection in the 51st District and has drawn a challenger in John Williamson, co-founder of the Gilmer County Tea Party.

There are two vacant seats on the Board of Commissioners after Chairman Mike Berg and District 2 Commissioner James Swafford decided not to run again. Bill Thurmond and Peter J. Hill will compete for the Chairman’s seat and Chris Gaines and Tim Davis are the candidates in District 2. In District 4, incumbent Julie Nix has drawn a challenge from Heather Hulsebus, former Chairwoman of the Dawson County Republican Party.

There is also a four-way race to replace retiring Sheriff Billy Carlisle and all four candidates have many years of experience in law enforcement. The candidates are Frank Sosebee, Jeff Johnson, Jeff Perry and Tony Wooten.

The Tax Commissioner race also features four candidates, Andi Henson Juliette, Karin McKee, Johnny Glass and Nicole Stewart.

Advance voting begins Monday, May 2 and runs through May 20 (Mon. – Fri.). All advanced voting takes place at the Dawson County Board of Elections Office 96 Academy Avenue, Dawsonville.

No Democrats have qualified in any of the races, so the winner of the General Primary will take office in January.

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Jeff Perry, Candidate Dawson County Sheriff

News, Politics

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Jeff Perry believes his education, experience, training and leadership skills make him the best candidate for Dawson County Sheriff.

Perry has 30 years of law enforcement experience, most of which have been as a parole officer. He currently serves as a Chief Parole Officer where he manages a large district office covering seven counties.

“I am the only candidate with a college degree,” Perry said. “I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia Southern University and I am working on my Master’s Degree at the University of North Georgia.”

Perry has served on many state and federal law enforcement task forces, including, the 1996 State Olympic Law Enforcement Team and as a supervisor with the Secret Service for the 2004 G-8 Summit of world leaders.

“As sheriff, my number one priority will be to keep our citizens safe,” he said. To accomplish that, Perry said he would partner with local, state and federal public safety agencies to augment staff and resources. He also would work closely with communities, citizens, businesses and families.

Manpower has been an issue for the sheriff’s office. A recent study by the Georgia Sheriff’s Association revealed that 39 new positions are needed to adequately protect Dawson County citizens.

Perry said he would work with county commissioners to request funding for additional positions. But, he added, that being able to retain good offiers is just as important.

“The sheriff’s office has lost 86 employees in the last five years,” he said. “It cost $8,000 to send an officer through basic law enforcement training. That is roughly $688,000 the county has lost and that does not take into account the experience we’ve lost and the length of time it takes to train an officer to be able to patrol alone.”

Perry says he will address the retention issue by creating a work-friendly environment that promotes from within and by partnering with UNG and Columbus State University to provide opportunities for employees to earn scholarships to pursue their Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s Degree.

Perry said he would exercise fiscal responsibility by implementing what he called results based budgeting. “If we’re funding a program and it’s not producing the desired results we’re going to eliminate that program and redirect funding to a service that is providing positive results. We’ill make sure we request what we need and not what we want.”

The next sheriff will have to deal with a population boom and a crime rate that often accompanies growth.

“We can do that by emracing the latest technology, community policing, implementing a sheriff’s auxiliary force, staffing additional precincts and adding additional positions over the first four years of my term,” Perry said.

Perry has been married to his wife Lisa, who is the Assistant Superintendent of Dawson County schools, for 27 years. They have two grown children and attend Liberty Baptist Church where he is Vice Chairmam of the Deacon’s Board.

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Sheriff’s Candidates Square off at Forum

News, Politics

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — With just 8 weeks left before the May 24 Republican Primary, Dawson County residents had another opportunity to evaluate the candidates for sheriff during Tuesday night’s forum at Dawson County Middle School.
The four — Jeff Johnson, Tony Wooten, Jeff Perry and Frank Sosebee — are all veteran law enforcement officers with many years experience. Sheriff Billy Carlisle has announced that he will retire at the end of the year, following 18 years as the county’s top cop.
Candidates agreed on many issues, like the importance of retaining good officers, community policing and fiscal responsibility.
Asked to cite their top priorities as sheriff, Johnson pointed to the need to prevent the flow of drugs into Dawson County. Sosebee said retention of good officers is critical. Perry said the next sheriff will have to address a staff shortage and Wooten cited crime prevention and pointed out that the county burglary rate had dropped by 36 percent in three years.
Sosebee, Perry and Johnson also agreed with a bill passed in the Georia legislature this year that would prevent civil forfeiture of property until after a suspect has been convicted of a crime. Wooten disagreed stating there is a strong system in place to protect the property of those who are found not guilty. “

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