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Editorial: Plenty of time to get to know candidates for sheriff

Candidates are placing signs across the county, speaking to others about their candidacy, cultivating social media followings and lining up to file by the handful.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office race is off and running with five candidates that have made a public pronouncement about their plans. It’s certainly possible more will file and that others have talked about their intentions with friends or social media pages where posts are private.

The candidates so far are Mike Caskey, a Rowan County commissioner, National Guardsman and Charlotte police officer; Tommie Cato, a school resource officer who retired from the N.C. Highway Patrol and served in the Marine Corps; Capt. Greg Hannold, who’s in charge of the Rowan County Detention Center; Brad Potts, a retired state trooper who also serves as a reserve police officer for the town of Cleveland; and Travis Allen, a detective for the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office who serves on the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.

That’s quite a list of candidates — one with plenty of relevant experience to serving as Rowan County sheriff.

Because running for sheriff only technically requires paying a filing fee, why not give it a shot? True, a serious effort will require public speaking events, shaking hands, cultivating a social media following, soliciting donations and spending it wisely. With Kevin Auten saying he won’t seek another term, however, candidates see an open seat and a much greater shot at winning. For most, being elected sheriff is the pinnacle of a law enforcement career.

But it’s important for voters to know we’re more than 18 months away from the general election for the position and about one year away from the Republican primary, which is likely to decide the winner in the general election because of the GOP’s dominance in local elections. Even filing is still several months away.

This year, the only elections on the calendar are town board and city council races in local municipalities. So, instead of voting for sheriff, people who live inside of a city’s or town’s borders will vote on who make decisions about things like whether the police department receives funding for new cruisers, if parks get a facelift and which kind of new developments can move into town and where they’re allowed to go. They’ll also be responsible for providing oversight of city and town staff members.

In the sheriff’s race, candidates have only needed to fill out paperwork to establish a campaign committee with the Rowan County Board of Elections, which allows them to raise and spend money. It’s good that candidates are already lining up to run, but voters should know they have more time than usual to get to know people who want to be the county’s top law enforcement officer.

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