Race for Sumter County Sheriff

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SUMTER COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) - Two qualified candidates running for Sheriff in Sumter County, but who will come out on top? Democrat incumbent Brian Harris or Independent challenger Demetrius Thomas.

Sheriff Harris would serve his first full term if elected. Harris, the former York police chief, was appointed by former Governor Robert Bentley in 2016 after the removal of former Sheriff Tyrone Clark for corruption.

"Experience in this job is important. Especially in a rural county like Sumter where the sheriff is not stuck behind a desk all day," said the incumbent, Brian Harris.

Challenger Thomas, an ordained minister and former reserve officer, says it's time for a change.

"Well I think people need to voice their opinion because it's important. If they don't voice their opinion, then you'd never know what's going on in the communities," said Thomas.

Sheriff Harris says if elected he would like to see more officers on the street but like many small agencies, the sheriff's department is understaffed due to funding.

"This county needs really a minimum of 12 deputies. As with the one thousand square miles of land coverage in this county, that's one of the things that I want to see is more deputies. The more deputies you have the better your presence is and the more crime you can prevent," said Harris.

Thomas says he believes community policing should be the primary focus. He says that's something he can bring with the position.

"My officers would be in the community. They would be known in the community not only as a law enforcement officer, but as a friend, a confidant, and someone they can talk to," said Thomas.

Voters will make their choice next Tuesday.

"Every single day we come into this office, we try to make today better than yesterday," said Harris.

"I'm here to ask for that chance to help Sumter County make a change," said Thomas.

The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for Alabama elections is November 1st.