Candidates make final push in Muscogee County Sheriff's race

Candidates make final push in Muscogee County Sheriff's race
Published: Oct. 13, 2016 at 3:40 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2016 at 1:28 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  In four weeks, voters in Muscogee County will decide how the sheriff's department will look for the next term. 

We spoke with two of the challengers, Donna Tompkins (D) and Mark Lajoye (R). Both look to unseat incumbent John Darr (I). 

Tompkins said she believes it's time for a change, adding Darr's leadership has cost taxpayers millions of dollars in litigation against city leaders. 

"I think the people see the lawsuits against the city as a waste of their dollars, and a lot of people are upset about that," Tompkins said. 

Tompkins said her first priority is getting the department's budget under control, and renegotiating benefits and services for current employees.

"Get the same results for less money, if we can do it," Tompkins said. "We've just got to do that. It's what's good for the people of Muscogee County."

Lajoye said he also questions some of the current Sheriff's decisions. In particular, he highlighted the time when Darr testified on behalf of Sawan "Sunny" Shah, a man convicted of financial crimes. 

"They thought that that was a bad thing for him, and what it did was  it put the sheriff's department in a bad light," Lajoye said. "It pretty much kind of gave him a bad name."

In regards to the strained relationship between the sheriff's department and Columbus City Council, Lajoye said he wants to build bridges as soon as possible.

"What we have to do right now is get back in with the city council," Lajoye said. "Let them know, 'I'm the leadership now in the sheriff's office,' and I want to rebuild that relationship with them, because I can't do this by myself." 

Whatever differences the two candidates have, each believes they are the most qualified person for the job.

"I'm ready to lead with integrity, commitment, and a lifetime of experience," Tompkins said. 

"You have to be a really good leader. You have to know the traits of a leader," Lajoye said. "Ethics is a big thing. Integrity, your character - all of these things are extremely important  about being a leader."

We also spoke with Sheriff John Darr. He said he's confident voters will look at his eight-year record to see how his administration has positively impacted the community. 

"I get the support from all areas of this community," Darr said. "I can't be lucky enough to be the sheriff in a  community that I get the support from; all different areas in this community, and that's what I'm seeing, that's what I'm hearing and I think that's what's going to play out this election cycle."

Pam Brown is also a candidate in the sheriff's race. We are reaching out to her as well for comment and will update this story once we hear from her. 

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