SYLVESTER, Ga. — Worth County voters will be looking a several contested races in Tuesday’s primaries, with the ballot highlighted by five candidates vying to replace outgoing Sheriff Freddie Tompkins.
Tompkins, who has served as sheriff since 1984, is not running for re-election.
Three Democrats — J.D. Daniel, Lenny Davis and Gene Jones — and two Republicans — Ronnie Graddy and Jeff Hobby — are in the running for the office. The Democratic and Republican winners will face off against each other Nov. 6.
“All my experience in law enforcement qualifies me to be the next sheriff of Worth County,” said Daniel, who has been a sheriff’s deputy for the past 19 years. “I know the county and I know the people. I’ve been in law enforcement for almost 31 years and I have experience in all areas of law enforcement.”
Davis, who was raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., said the Marine Corps brought him to south Georgia, and he’s been here for about 20 years. His experience includes service with the Worth County Sheriff’s Department since 1995 and with the Georgia Army National Guard. Davis said he also has worked with the Worth Fire and Rescue Departments and has “done everything a responding officer faces.”
Jones, a Worth native, said he started in law enforcement in 1990 working under Chief Tommy Bozeman with the Sylvester Police Department. Jones also worked as the chief of police in Poulan for about five years and was a deputy for the Sheriff’s Office for the past six years before taking a leave of absence to run for the sheriff’s post. “It’s always been my long-term goal,” Jones said. “I have a good heart for people in general ... and this is the best way I can make a difference.”
Graddy started his law enforcement career with the Albany Police Department, but has spent 15 years working with the Worth Sheriff’s Office. He also worked with the Sylvester P.D. He said he expects to continue the work of Tompkins, but may make some gradual changes if elected. Graddy said the desire to make the county safe and prosperous motivated him to seek the office. “I’ve got about 30 family members living here, about half of them still in the school system, so I want it to be safe for them and all kids,” he said.
Hobby, who has worked about 15 years as a trooper with the Georgia State Patrol, said he grew up in Worth County in the Doles area. Hobby said his work with the GSP has exposed him to changes in sheriff departments throughout the area, and he hopes to incorporate some of those tactics in Worth County. “With the economy like it is and crime increasing, we need someone who can be proactive,” Hobby said. He added that he is the father of two boys and wants to make the county safe for all children.
The other crowded race features a four-person field for County Commission chairman, a position elected at-large in the county.
Incumbent Chairman Matt Medders is facing a challenge from Donald Hufstetler in the Democratic primary, while the Republican race has Mike Cosby and and former county commissioner Fred Dent facing off.
In other county races, three are seeking the retiring Sheryl Hall’s job as Probate Court judge. Democrat Fidila Hall, who is running unopposed, will face Tuesday’s Republican primary winner — Virginia Accord or Ann Goldinger — in November’s general election.
In the Coroner’s race, incumbent Johnny Johnson will square off with challenger Ken Willis in the Republican primary.
In the County Commission District 1 race, incumbent Tony Hall is being challenged by Joe Gaines in the Democratic primary.
The county Board of Education District 3 race has two Republicans — Billy Oliver and Bill Reynolds — vying for the right to attempt to unseat Democratic incumbent Mike Roberts in the November general election.
Several Worth incumbents are running unopposed.
Brenda Hicks, clerk of Superior Court;
Tony Strenth, chief magistrate;
Bryce Johnson, solicitor-general;
Jerry Jones, School Board District 2;
Clarence Miller, State Court judge.
The Democratic and Primary elections are scheduled for Tuesday with the general election set for Nov. 6.