In a repeat of the 2018 election, Sheriff Ronnie Fields will again face challenger Steve Adams. Only this time, the race will be contested in the Republican primary in May.
The early voting portion of the primary begins Thursday and runs until 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 14. The statewide primary will take place on May 17.
Fields was elected in 2018 with nearly 74% of the vote, by a tally of 26,256 to Adams’ 9,397.
Adams, widely known as the owner/operator and on-air personality of Talk Radio 990 WEEB for over 30 years, served as the station’s programming director and host of “Mornings With the Leaderman.”
Before coming to the area in this role in 1991, Adams worked as project manager and CEO of Kildaire Farms in Cary from 1975 to 1980, then became president of Steve Adams Construction Company from 1980 to 1995.
Adams said the sheriff’s office was in a “sad state that needs to be fixed” and a business leader was in the best position to accomplish.
“Sheriff’s Department assets are underutilized,” Adams said. “They’re sitting on a gold mine to use, but they need someone with a management background.”
Adams said his acumen from three decades in the private sector could help the sheriff’s office. He cites a belief of former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio that the job of sheriff is “99% management and 1% enforcement.”
Although he has no formal law enforcement experience, Adams said if elected he would hire a chief deputy to handle the law enforcement side of the office. .
His idea for the office is to make it more privatized to offset taxpayer costs, including renting out unused jail cells and creating a crime lab in the county that could save the county “millions” instead of itself. press the state crime lab.
That, in turn, could lead to faster turnaround times for evidence results and faster trials, he said.
“The big problem is waiting to get the evidence back and while that’s happening the offenders are sitting in jail on our own nickel,” Adams said.
“The sheriff is a bureaucrat, and when he sees a problem, he wants to keep doing things the way they were. I’m an entrepreneur and I look at a challenge and find ways to solve it.
Adams also plans to generate cash flow for the jail, including smaller bonds funded by the sheriff’s office and making the animal shelter a “no-kill” shelter on day one. His definition of no killing means that there is no euthanasia for any animal unless it “could cause danger to itself or to others”.
Adams also has a plan where inmates can be used to help train some of the shelter dogs and improve their adoptability.
Since being elected nearly four years ago, Fields said one of the things he’s most proud of is how the sheriff’s office and other agencies have come together to get things done.
“When we put the handcuffs on the individuals who killed black people – DP and Mary – it was the most heinous crime I’ve seen since taking this job,” Fields said. “To see the entire office come together as a team and work with outside agencies to make this arrest in such a short time was phenomenal.”
Among the initiatives the sheriff’s office has launched under Fields’ watch is the return of community policing to the Seven Lakes/West End area. Fields said he hopes to continue spreading this technique to other areas of the county if he is re-elected for another term.
Inside the Moore County Detention Center, renovations to the old county jail for short-term incarceration and other classrooms and the addition of a full body scanner helped reform and to protect the population.
“(The scanner) has already saved lives. It had its price, but it saved lives. It was a deterrent not to bring drugs and narcotics into the prison,” Fields said. “We’re using it and we’ve set up a classroom for (inmates) to get their (high school equivalency diploma). About 16 people are registered.
“We have reached out to Alcoholics Anonymous and we work with the substance abuse issues that we have in our prison and our community. We don’t just arrest these people. We try to bring them here to make a difference in their lives and to give them options.
Fields said while he liked the changes that happened with county protection during his tenure, there are still areas he would like to see improved that continue to change the law enforcement landscape. . The development of forensic science is one area.
“Not only do law enforcement have to go there, but the bad guys are there too,” Fields said. “We have to stay ahead of the game to work on this part.”
With more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, Fields said he appreciates the support of the community and county government to help the sheriff’s office do the job better.
“They give us money and that allows us to get more tools to give my people to work with,” Fields said of the commissioners. “I don’t have all my wants, but all my needs are met.”