Competitive race shaping up for sheriff

Published 3:06 am Sunday, September 23, 2018

Across the nation, political eyes are on the mid-term congressional races and their implications on the country’s political balance of power. But here in Adams County a race of even more importance is shaping up — more than a year before final votes will be cast.

In what certainly seems an unusual and early move, candidates for the office of Adams County Sheriff have been popping up to proclaim their intent to run against first-term sheriff Travis Patten. The qualification deadline will be sometime after the first of the year, typically in February.

But that hasn’t stopped the line of men (so far only men have publicly thrown their hats in the ring) who want to become county sheriff.

No fewer than three local men have proclaimed their plans to run against Patten in 2019. Patten has said he plans to run again as well.

Whispers of who plans to run, who has been talking about running and who may not run for any number of political offices have abounded in our community for decades.

It’s part of the political process.

And those whispers and backyard discussions often start as soon as one election’s results are finalized; people are looking ahead to the next.

Approximately one week ago, long-time Natchez police officer Jerry Ford launched his plans to become the county’s new sheriff.

He’s running on the slogan, “A new day, a new way.”

Another longtime lawman, Thom Grennell has been distributing campaign material and his friends have announced their intention to vote for him on social media.

Grennell, who is the brother of Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell, works as an investigator for the District Attorney’s office.

Earlier this month, first-term county constable Adam Kirk announced to social media followers of his plans to run.

In addition to his current role, Kirk has a military background and has worked in law enforcement in our community for years.

All of these men have long histories serving the public and for that all deserve our respect and admiration. As early as it is in the process, it’s quite possible another person or two might get the itch to run as well. In some ways, that’s refreshing.  Our political system needs good candidates to step forward and agree to run for public office.  Far too many incumbents run unopposed.

That said, from all indications and discussions, I’ve heard, most people think Patten has done a good job. He may have ruffled some feathers with some high-profile drug busts, but isn’t that what we want law enforcement to do? We want the justice system to be blind in its approach to being fair and just. Two of the biggest drug cases — one just completed, another still pending — showed Patten and his crew are not afraid to make a case against anyone they feel has done wrong, regardless of the person’s perceived stature in the community, color of their skin, or thickness of their wallet.

Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies have charged a high profile, prominent white business owner and a high profile, prominent black business owner.

With more than a year of campaigning ahead, the race will certainly be interesting. We’d welcome feedback from readers on this sheriff’s race and others ahead. Write to us at letters@natchezdemocrat.com, mail it to us at P.O. Box 1447, Natchez MS 39121 or drop it off at our office at 503 N. Canal St.

Elections are referendums on the performance of the incumbent. Ultimately, if voters believe Patten has done a good job, he’ll get reelected. If they don’t, voters will choose another option. Time will tell, but one thing is for sure, our system always prevails and a race with this many candidates, this early, is certain to be a good one.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.