In politics, you often hear political races described as battles. The race for Lee County sheriff, which will be decided Tuesday by the county’s voters, has lived up to the term.
It is clear that there is no love lost between Sheriff Reggie Rachals and challenger David Cheshire.
That is also evident in many of their respective supporters, who have taken negative campaigning to bitter levels, dragging out every bit of dirt and innuendo they can to tarnish the other candidate.
In interviews with The Editorial Board, both candidates were personable and professional. Quite frankly, both have excellent law enforcement credentials and appear to be capable of handling the office.
So, the question becomes (1) has Rachals performed well in his initial term of office and (2) would the election of Cheshire improve enough upon Rachals’ performance to warrant a change?
“I think the sheriff’s office has come a long way in my four years,” Rachals said during his interview, noting that he has worked to rebuild relationships with neighboring law enforcement agencies. “We help solve crimes across lines,” he said. “Crime doesn’t stop at the county line.”
Cheshire, who resigned as a lieutenant in the sheriff’s office late last year to run for the position, doesn’t see that progress. “This race is about me making the department better for the county,” he told the Board. “I’m ready to rejuvenate the sheriff’s office.”
Cheshire contends the office is too top-heavy administratively and that more, better paid road deputies are needed. He also has accused Rachals of nepotism in his hiring and awarding of a fence contract.
Rachals points to improvements he has made, including increasing road patrols. He said under his administration training has increased, a TASER and impact weapon certification has been implemented for deputies and jailers, jail security has improved and he has implemented programs for the community, including women’s firearms training classes. A new 800 MHz communications system is to be implemented as early as August, improving communications with Lee County agencies and with neighboring agencies, he said.
Despite all the nasty campaign clutter, we think Lee County residents are fortunate to have two capable men seeking the office of sheriff. Four years ago, we thought that Rachals would be a marked improvement in the sheriff’s position, and we believe he has been exactly that in his first term. We recommend that Lee County voters give Rachals a new term as sheriff to continue the work he has started.