Six want to be next sheriff
Tuesday’s primary election will likely determine who the next sheriff (and the first new sheriff in decades) of Orange County will be.
The six Democratic candidates – Charles Blackwood, Andy Cagle, David Caldwell Jr., Larry D. Faucette, Buddy Parker and Keith Webster -- are vying for the seat that current Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass is giving up. There are no Republican candidates running, so the candidate who emerges as the winner in the primary is virtually assured the winner in the fall’s general election.
Most of the candidates are coming to the race with a background in law enforcement; all seem to agree on the importance of working with sister law enforcement agencies, decreasing response time to calls, more integration of technology and fairness while serving the county.
Blackwood said he plans to instigate a cultural shift in the sheriff’s department that will embrace best practices with customer service as a means to better serve the public.
“The culture change will certainly start at the top and sometimes it’s just speaking to people,” he said. “Everybody in the department matters and they need to feel like they matter.
“At the end of my first year, if elected, I want citizens to feel like they’ve made the right choice electing me as sheriff,” Blackwood said. “By the end of my first year I also want to address the cultural change, go ahead and start that, and get new life into the department, a new hope into the department.”
Cagle said he doesn’t consider his lack of law enforcement experience as an obstacle but sees his business management skills as an asset to the post.
“I’ve been working from the bottom up and making fact-based decisions,” he said. “The primary duty of the sheriff is to make sure that the deputies have the equipment and training they need and that the citizens are taken care of in regard to public safety.
“I know that as sheriff of Orange County, I can bring a lot of new life and synergy to Orange County,” Cagle said. “Through minor restructuring within the department and constructive criticism we can bolster morale to a level that is second to none.”
Caldwell believes that it’s important to have constituents who are knowledgeable when it comes to non-emergencies because deputies are not the catch-all to citizen concerns.
“A lot of people don’t understand where to get help or how to get it,” he said. “I want to have biweekly or monthly sessions where people can come and ask questions. It’s a lot less stressful and it will help make the people feel more comfortable and able to ask for help.”
Caldwell is in favor of open communication and said that “we really need to be able to talk to and communicate with everyone in our community” including perpetrators.
Faucette said that he wants his constituents to remember that he will be a “sheriff for the people” who will “build a diverse team of law enforcement officers who reflect the community we serve.”
“I’ve stood by what I believe in and my record shows what I believe in,” said Faucette. “I’m involved in the community and I will continue to be involved in the community. I believe in community relationships.”
Faucette added that the department is already headed to being what he calls a “21st century law enforcement team,” noting that the “sheriff has to be accountable for his service and the service of his men.”
Parker cites his history in law enforcement.
“I like helping people,” Parker said. “I’ve been helping the people of Hillsborough and believe that I can help the people of Orange County. The current sheriff got me into law enforcement and I told him that one day I’d have his job. I’m trying to keep my promise.”
This is Parker’s third attempt to secure the coveted seat. He said that his platform has remained the same. For this campaign he wrote an open letter to the deputies of the department.
“I wanted them (deputies) to understand where I was coming from, that I’m not coming in there to clean house,” he said. “I lead by example not from behind a deck but from the field. I’ve always been a working supervisor. I promise to be a working sheriff.”
Webster is currently a lieutenant in the Carrboro Police Department and has an extensive career in law enforcement, including serving in the SWAT Team, as a K-9 officer and part of the Patrol Division.
“As sheriff, I plan to reach out to communities not always trusting of law enforcement,” Webster said on his website. “My priority is to establish good relationships with all communities in Orange County so that I may serve to the best of my ability.”
Webster said that as sheriff he would work to modernize the department from the top down, work to increase the responsiveness of citizen calls for emergencies, work to reduce property crime and establish and maintain trust with the community.