Sheriff’s race heats up
Former sheriff Pritchett qualifies as democrat
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
No fewer than three candidates for sheriff qualified at the Morgan County Elections Office last week, and a fourth is expected to register to run as an independent in June.
Incumbent Sheriff Robert Markley (R), former sheriff Kenny Pritchett (D), Keith Fitzgerald (Indep.) and Terry Scoggins (D) are all currently in the running for the position. A July primary is expected to reduce the field of those who have declared a political party to one republican and one democrat, in addition to any independent candidates.
Current Sheriff Robert Markley, 39, is an 18-year veteran of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department.
“We’ve got a lot of unfinished business that we’ve got to keep working on, and the jail is just one of those projects,” said Markley in a telephone interview Tuesday. “But we’ve done the things I said we’d do when I was elected eight years ago—we’ve managed the budget, made the sheriff’s office a professionally managed department, and we’ve kept response times low, while keeping crime rates below those of other counties of similar size.”
Former sheriff Kenny Pritchett, 53, has specific interest in the sheriff’s budget and county spending in general. He served as Morgan County Sheriff from 1989 through 2000; prior to that he served as a deputy after beginning his career as a Madison police officer 30 years ago.
“I’m concerned about the amount of spending in county government overall, not just the sheriff’s department,” said Pritchett in a Tuesday interview. “At a time when gas is up to four dollars a gallon and going higher…I just think we need to stop and evaluate where we’re going. When you read in the paper that SPLOST and ELOST [revenues] are going down, common sense tells you that something is going to have to be cut.”
Independent candidate Keith Fitzgerald, 39, is a Madison resident currently serving as Lt. Commander of the Walton County Narcotics Task Force, an intergovernmental group supervised by the Walton County sheriff’s office, the Monroe police department, and the Alcovy district attorney’s office.
“I’ve been watching [the Morgan County sheriff’s department] over the last seven years, and I have seen that it has been status quo,” he said Tuesday. “There is room for change in our sheriff’s office…we’re not being pro-active about drugs or gangs; we’re lacking personnel in our patrol division, and that puts the citizens and the deputies at risk,” said Fitzgerald. “I think we just need a good, positive change; our sheriff’s department is lacking professional leadership.”
Candidate Terry Scoggins was not available for comment on Tuesday. Summer political primaries will be held in Georgia on July 15; the Morgan County general election will be held November 4, 2008, in conjunction with this year’s Presidential Election.