Troup County Sheriff Donny Turner and challenger James Woodruff, who face each other in the Aug. 21 runoff election for the Republican nomination, each spoke on their platforms Tuesday at the Troup County Republican Party.
In the order they spoke:
Woodruff said that he wants to be accessible to Troup County residents and address their complaints personally if elected. He also wants to reduce wasteful spending, saying that the move for the sheriff’s office to collect delinquent taxes took a deputy from investigations to handle collections at the Troup County Government Center.
“I think that was a wasteful spending move,” Woodruff said. “I think when we send our money to Carrollton, to a company up there that collects these taxes or makes these foreclosures, we need to keep that money to stay here in Troup County. … I need that officer out here on the road, working burglaries, working thefts and fighting crime.”
Woodruff said he wanted to continue programs at the sheriff’s office, including youth programs like the junior deputy program and CHAMPS. He said keeping school resource officers in the schools is important to handle some situations and have a presence that children can use to develop trust with a deputy.
“I want these young people to know that we’re there, we’re their friends, they can talk to us, let us know can confide in us, they can share their problems with us,” Woodruff said.
Keeping the department’s dive team and K-9 units are necessary, he added. He denied that he intended to start firing sheriff’s office employees if he takes office.
“I worked with a lot of these people back here at the sheriff’s office, I know how hard they work,” he said. “I know they’re good employees, I have no intention to just go in an start firing people at will.”
Woodruff said he worked on the road many years and will not be lenient on crime. He said the sheriff’s department needs to work with the drug court to try and help rehabilitate abusers, and mental health court to help people with a problem.
Turner said his department has made more than 1,600 drug arrests in the last four years and will continue to crack down on drug dealers. Drug money seizures have saved tax payers about $1.7 million on essentials for the sheriff’s office, like guns and vehicles, over the last 20 years.
“You haven’t bought a car in over seven years in taxpayers’ money, we bought that from money in our drug fund,” Turner said. “He (Woodruff) says he wants to continue that, I’m not sure what trooper or state patrolman he talked to, but I’ve been working 20 years with the report with these people to get this set up. … If I’m gone, you’re going to get $1.7 million in your taxes raised in the next three years, because we have got to keep buying these things.”
Turner said the department has cut costs by about $981,000 over the last three years. Some of the cuts include new uniforms.
“Lots of those things we’ve cut out of there,” he said. “We cut those out because the economy is so bad, and you can’t pay your taxes, and so we’ve done that for you. We’ve done that because we’ve been able to do so.”
For tax collections, Turner said that the sheriff office taking over operations have lowered delinquent fees and taken the cost associated with notifying and starting the tax sale process from tax payers to solely the delinquent payer.
“That thing is not costing you any money, that money comes only from the delinquent taxpayer,” Turner said. “That money that goes to Carrollton is owed by the person that is late on their taxes. If you pay your taxes on time, why should you pay for us to check somebody else’s taxes? It just isn’t right. It’s a legal thing we do, and it saves lot of money to do.”