The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

April 24, 2014

Stanly County sheriff candidates discuss campaign issues

Thursday, April 24, 2014 — Incumbents typically have the advantage. But, in the race for Stanly County sheriff, the badge might as well be a target.

By most accounts Sheriff Rick Burris sports the upper hand in continuing to run an office responsible for 100 deputies, the jail, courthouse security, county law enforcement with an annual budget of $6 million.

However, in a county where elected Democrats are an endangered species, any advantage appears tenuous at best.

The GOP has seemingly taken siege, judging by the onslaught of Republican candidates running for local offices this election year. And efforts of a political takeover remain in full swing.

Other than the District Attorney, which until Dec. 1 is part of a multi-county prosecutorial and judicial district where Democrats maintain a stronghold, Burris is the only remaining elected Democrat in a county office.

In 2010, Rick Burris narrowly defeated Republican George T. Burris by 142 votes, which called for a recount.

Between a political shift and a contemporary trend that Stanly County sheriffs seldom last longer than two terms, Burris’ tenure could be in jeopardy. Not since Ralph McSwain, with 28 years as the county’s top cop, has a Stanly sheriff lasted beyond two terms.

George T. Burris is among the logjam of candidates gunning to become the next sheriff. Four Republicans will duke it out in the May 6th primary while two Democrats duel for the other party.

Joining George T. Burris as GOP contenders are Tony Frick, Melvin Poole and Michael Whaley. Because of the number of Republican candidates, a runoff is likely.

According to N.C. elections law, a single office seat must have plurality of 40 percent. If two canddiates obtain 40 percent of the vote, the top votegetter wins nomination. If no one garners 40 percent, a second primary is called. The more candidates running, the greater chance no one reaches 40 percent.

In the last primary, George T. Burris emerged as the GOP winner. Frick was also one of the three Republicans then vying for the nomination.

Frick, Stanly’s former sheriff, served two terms before losing to Rick Burris in 2006. This marks Frick’s second go-round at trying to get his job back.

Along with their professional feud, their relationship has also endured personal animosity since Rick Burris married Frick’s former wife.

The two worked together as police officers for the city of Albemarle.

Frick is the most critical of Rick Burris’ administration, specifically calling out the sheriff for what Frick deems a softness on crime as well as ethics. Frick claims Rick Burris fails to enforce the law, specifically drugs.

Rick Burris and Frick are the only two candidates to have served as sheriff. The sheriff cites 30 years of law enforcement experience, compared to Frick’s 25 years.

GOP candidates George T. Burris and Whaley are also experienced in law enforcement.

After having worked in four different departments within the sheriff’s office as well as the N.C. Department of Corrections and Oakboro Police Department, George T. Burris appears to have the most relative experience.

Whaley, also a former deputy in the sheriff’s office as well as police officer for the city of Concord, touts his education. He’s expected to graduate with a degree in criminal justice next month, the only one of the candidates with a B.S. degree related to law enforcement.

Whereas George T. Burris touts direct experience, Whaley counters with a combination of experience and education.

Melvin Poole, who threw his hat in the political ring on the last day of the filing period, offers no specific law enforcement experience. Instead, he confronts the void head-on, citing an extensive military career chock full of responsibilities greater than those of the Sheriff’s Office.

A college graduate with a degree in political science, Poole promises to immerse himself in the job the way he has for 18 years on the Board of Education.

Like Frick, and even Whaley to a lesser degree, Poole questions the integrity of Rick Burris’ Sheriff’s Office, suggesting its standards have diminished to the point of necessary change.

Like Rick Burris, Poole served in Vietnam.

Rick Burris will not breeze through the primary uncontested.

Cameron Speights, also experienced within the sheriff’s office, hopes to defeat Burris in the primary. A former registered Republican, Speights switched party affiliations just prior to the filing period.

Speights is also a veteran, having served in Desert Storm. He maintains an associate’s degree in criminal justice with plans to complete his B.S degree this summer.

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Text Only
Local News
  • Eagle Scout Award Stanfield Scout receives Eagle rank

    Wade Mullins of Boy Scout Troop 27 in Stanfield recently earned his Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wool Pool Wool pool draws farmers near, far

    “Yes, sir, yes, sir. Three bags full,” goes “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,” the children’s nursery rhyme. Various bags of wool were assembled in Stanly County this week.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police chief resigns

    Stanfield is on the lookout for someone to lead its Police Department following the July 18 resignation of Chief James Schneider. Officer Corie Faggart has been named interim chief while the town seeks interviewees for the post.

    July 28, 2014

  • 24-27 back on list

    After an outpouring of public comment on the N.C. Highway 24-27 project,  the N.C. Department of Transportation says it may have a chance at funding once again.

    July 28, 2014

  • Youth Choir State youth choir shares message in scripture, song

    They came, they sang, they shared a message.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lending A Hand Red Cross, YMCA discuss emergency preparedness

    They may not be in the Coast Guard, or even in the Boy Scouts, but the kids at this year’s YMCA camp can now say they follow the same motto: always be prepared.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dragon Boat Resident wants to bring boat races to Stanly

    Ann Pressly is not ripping herself off with the idea of bringing dragon boat racing to Stanly County. She is just taking advantage of a good thing and something that is gaining in popularity.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • School board hopeful files to oppose Poole

    District 1 Board of Education member Melvin Poole has something he has not had since 1998, an opponent.

    July 21, 2014

  • Crisco died of heart issues

    An autopsy report released this week indicates former secretary of commerce Keith Crisco died from heart problems.

    July 18, 2014

  • Stanly projects stall

    Barring any major changes in the next couple of months it is unlikely that any highway projects in Stanly County will receive funding from the N.C. Department of Transportation next year.

    July 18, 2014

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide