Decision weighty for voters

Published 12:28 am Friday, October 21, 2011

Vidalia — Concordia Parish residents will step into the voting booths Saturday to choose a sheriff, and for the first time in more than 20 years Randy Maxwell will not be an option on the ballot.

Maxwell announced in June that he would not seek re-election this term, and three candidates to replace him have thrown their names in the hat.

Robert “Rock” Davis, Kenneth Hedrick and Charles “Junior” Tarver are seeking to replace Maxwell, and Concordia Parish residents are weighing the pros and cons of each candidate in order to make a decision on which candidate should fill the parish’s highest law enforcement seat.

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“(This election) is very important,” Vidalia resident Gloria Cupit said. “It’s very important that we have the right people to run the parish.”

Ferriday resident Helen Buard said the responsibility of choosing the right sheriff is something each parish resident should take seriously.

“It’s very, very important,” she said. “Every one that is registered needs to go out and vote.”

One of the key issues the three candidates will have to focus on once elected is controlling the drug problem in the parish, voters said.

“There are a lot of drugs on the streets, and we really need to get that cleaned up,” Ferriday resident Vernessa Fortune said.

Vidalia resident Kenneth Brannan said one way he thinks the sheriff could help control the drug issue is by stepping up the patrols.

“I am looking for them to survey areas,” he said. “They need to make sure they get people in different areas to patrol. They need to patrol more areas to cut down on the drug problem as much as possible and cut down on crime.”

Voters also mentioned they would like to see the new sheriff focus on reducing theft and cleaning up the parish prison system.

Voters said they would look at individual qualities in the candidates that will help them be good community leaders.

“(I want him) to have honesty, be hard working and not be a politician,” Vidalia resident Phyllis Falkenheiner said.

Brannan said he will look for fairness from the new sheriff, and he also wants the new sheriff to be able to work well with community leaders, businesses and residents.

“I want him to show a relationship with the public,” Brannan said. “He should be concerned about the community and concerned about businesses that make up the community. He should also have a good relationship with the mayor and police jury, and work together. That means a great deal.”

Brannan also said he wants to see someone build on some of Maxwell’s accomplishments.

“I really don’t have too many complaints about the current sheriff,” he said. “But (the new sheriff) should try to do better. We should always strive to do better and continue to go higher and better for the community.”

Falkenheiner said the new sheriff would have the additional burden of stepping in for someone that had familiarity with the community.

“We are used to who we have, and he’s doing a good job,” she said.

Buard said she just hopes the parish elects the best person for the job.

“I just want the right person to do the right things in the community,” she said. “It’s not all about talk but about doing.”