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Pike County sheriff candidates respond to questionnaire

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The five Pike County Sheriff/Collector candidates were asked a series of questions and asked to submit them to the Murfreesboro Diamond.

The questions asked were:

1 – Name, Age, Previous Profession(s)

2 – What do you feel are your qualifications to hold your chosen office that make you the one most uniquely suited to serve in the position?

3 – What qualities/characteristics, outside of the above listed qualifications, do you think makes you the best choice for office?

4 – Excluding the “It’s a paying job” answer, for what reasons did you decide to run for public office?

5 – What are your goals and plans after being elected?

6 – In what ways do you feel you can improve/operate your office to better serve the needs of the citizens of Pike County and to help improve Pike County as a whole? Additionally, regarding perceived concerns, how would you plan to improve/maintain effective communications between city law enforcement bodies and county municipalities with the Pike County Sheriff’s Department?

7 – When they are standing in front of the voting machine, what would you like the imminent voter to know about you before they cast their ballot?

All five qualified candidates replied — Thomas O. Slatton, who initially filed paperwork to run as an independent candidate for the office of Pike County Sheriff/Collector, did not turn in the necessary petition with 94 signatures of valid county residents by May 1 to make himself officially appear on the November ballot.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order. James Dewight Cogburn is an independent candidate and will not appear on the ballot until the November 2018 general election. Travis Hill and Randy Lamb are candidates for the office in the Democratic Preferential Primary, while George “Boots” Donaldson and Roger “Bimbo” Flemens are candidates in the Republican Preferential Primary, both of which will be held in Pike County on Tuesday, May 22.

James Dwight Cogburn

James Dwight Cogburn, 53, Truck Driver, Pike County Officer part-time, jailer, and currently a Murfreesboro City Officer part-time and self-employed.

#2. I have worked with many different people and have always treated each and every one fairly and honestly and I will continue to do so if elected. I have been in law enforcement since 2014 and have enjoyed each and every moment.

#3. No Answer 

#4. I have lived in Pike County all my life and I would like to do all I can to make Pike County a county my kids and grandkids would be proud to call their home.

#5. To earn the people of Pike County’s trust and respect, so if anyone in our county needs help of any kind, they won’t hesitate to call and ask for help. Also, to help in any way I can to help our county be the best county in Arkansas.

#6. Listen when the people of Pike County need something and do whatever I can to help as long as it is within the law. We should always work together, in my opinion … all the law enforcement offices need to be in unity. State, County, and City needs to know we will work as a family. This is not a place to hold a grudge against another officer. I want every single law enforcement officer in our county to know my team will have their back.  We all need help at some point of time.

#7. I will always be honest and fair in all my decisions with everyone.

George “Boots” Donaldson

George W. “Boots” Donaldson, 51, and I have lived in Pike County all my life. I became a deputy in 2009 & I’m currently employed by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office as a part-time 1 deputy,  full-time logger for Cox Timber Resource and I am the owner and operator of Donaldson Tree & Lawn Service for approximately 25 years. I am also the pastor of Midway Full Gospel Church.

#2. I try to help people and I don’t believe that everyone that you deal with should be issued a citation or go to jail. I would like to see programs for people that need help with illegal drugs, alcohol and prescription drugs.

#3. Everyone has a voice and everyone that needs to be able to call on me, and if I miss your call, I will return your call when I get a chance. I work well with the people of Pike County. The deputies will be courteous and polite as long as it is given to them. If there is a complaint on one of the deputies, we will investigate it, watch the video and talk with everyone that’s involved and it will be handled.

#4. I love helping people.

#5. I would like to get the people of Pike County to pull together on neighbor watches, get programs going for those that need help, get more training for the fire departments, training, safety equipment and school resource officers for our schools, as well as more jobs and to bring more tourism to Pike County. 

#6. I believe the sheriff is doing a fine job on the budget but I will have all employees working with respect and in a professional manner — all calls will be answered. We will work together with all agencies.

#7. Please pray about it and let God’s will be done on who he wants to be the Sheriff of Pike County.

Roger “Bimbo” Flemens

Roger “Bimbo” Flemens, 64, security supervisor/field agent, investigative supervisor, military, small business operator, Justice of the Peace, firearm instructor.

#2. I have a background in business, and also a military background, in investigative procedures and experience in the field and in domestic situations.

#3. I get along with kids and adults, and realize there is more to enforcing the law than just making arrests and throwing people in jail for minor infractions. I also understand that people are people and prone to making mistakes — and not all mistakes should be hammered into the ground!

#4. I decided to run because I was called away from a job in South Chicago with the government and railroad because the people of Pike County needed help with the crime — specifically drugs, theft and harassment of the law enforcement, as well as the specialized treatment of law enforcement personnel’s families, who were above the law!

#5. My goals are to enforce the law fairly and equally and treat all people fairly! Other goals are to eradicate the drugs that are rampant in our schools and create a school safety program to find drugs there and also to bring the tourist trade back to Pike County along with winning the support of our kids and adults by letting them know they can once again trust the law enforcement community in Pike County. Last, but not least, is the plan to protect and serve the citizens of Pike County, not the other way around.

#6. I will improve the interdepartmental cooperation between the county and cities by stopping the petty quarrels and improving relations between all parties concerned. If the law enforcement community is operating as professionals and with the attitude of serving the public, instead of being self-serving to themselves, then the people will feel comfortable with trusting them once again. I also have agencies outside the county that have offered to help me clean up Pike County without trampling the rights of our people in the process, which NO other candidate has, nor will have.

#7. I want the people to know that this is not an ego trip for me and that it is not just campaign promises … it is a commitment to them in giving them the best service and respect as citizens they can have, and then they will be able to trust the law around here!

Travis Hill

Travis Hill, 56, law enforcement for over 30 years and owner/operator of a trucking company.

#2. Experience, I have several years doing administrative work and have a good understanding of how to balance a budget. I have served under two sheriffs as Chief Deputy and I am currently serving as Chief Deputy also I was appointed Sheriff in 2012.

#3.  I love people and really enjoy helping people also. I am aware of most laws that are in place.

#4. To help people as well as make the schools and the county a safer place to live.

#5. Placing school resource officers in the three schools, starting the public service program in picking up thrash on the highways. Working with the people to solve our problems. I will listen and react to the people’s concerns.

#6. All departments need to work together, I accomplished this when I was with the cities and will accomplish it with the county. It works much better when everyone works together and gets things done. This was one of my main priorities, when I was the Police Chief. We had several agencies assisting us. This is a Rural County and it takes all agencies working together to produce the best results.

#7. I have had over 30 years of experience, I am a human too (no better than anyone else) I will be here to help with problems. I will make this a safer place to live. I am working to put 3 officers into our schools and purchasing another drug dog to help fight the drug problems we have in our county. I will always have an open ear to listen to the public concerns and react to them the best way I can. I am here to help you.

Randy Lamb

Randy Lamb, 48, from 1989 to 2003, I worked for the Murfreesboro Water Department as a licensed water/waste water operator. From 2003 through 2004, I worked for the Murfreesboro Police Department. From 2005 through 2008, I worked for the Pike County Sheriff’s Department as a K-9 Officer. In 2009, I returned to the Murfreesboro Police Department and served as Assistant Chief until 2010, when I was promoted to Chief of Police. I am still serving in that capacity.

#2. I have 15 ½ years of continuous law enforcement experience, including 8 years of administrative experience as Chief of Police. I have over 1,500 hours of continuous education in different areas of law enforcement, focusing primarily on drug and DWI interdiction.

#3. Within my 8 years of service as Chief of Police, the Murfreesboro Police Department has transformed from an agency that was continuously hiring and training new officers only to see them leave for other agencies to an agency of local, hardworking, and experienced veteran officers. I have obtained numerous grants to acquire items such as patrol cars, bullet proof vests, body cameras, radios, computers and other needed equipment for the department. I supervise two full-time and 10 part-time employees. I am the Fire Chief for the Murfreesboro Volunteer Fire Department and have served my community for over 27 years with this department. As Fire Chief, I supervise 13 firemen. The fire Department responds to fire, medical, search and rescue, swift water rescue and S.C.U.B.A. recoveries as well as maintaining a fire boat and a sister station on Lake Greeson in the Swaha area. Also, I am a co-owner of the Murfreesboro RV Park. It is a small business that my wife and I built in 2009. It is dependent upon local tourism and has been successfully growing and operating since that time. I spend many hours volunteering in my community as a coach for the South Pike County Archery Team. I am also an active member in the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce and a supporter of the Rattler Band Booster Club.

#4. I believe that I am the most qualified person to be Pike County Sheriff and Collector.  There are some improvements and changes that I feel need to be made within the department and I have the knowledge and experience to make those changes.

#5. As Sheriff, I will perform the administrative duties of the office and will operate within the budget set by the Quorum Court. I will take a leadership role in enforcing the law and investigating  crimes within the county. Many of the crimes committed in Pike County are drug related. I plan to focus efforts on trying to control the drug problem in Pike County. I intend to bring back the K-9 program to help with drug interdiction on the streets and to deter drugs from being brought into our schools. I intend to re-implement the community service program that will allow prisoners to pick up trash along the highways and county roads. I will work with the schools to help start and continue the School Recourse Officer programs. I plan to review the current policy on housing prisoners for other counties. I feel that the housing of Pike County prisoners should take precedence over housing prisoners from other counties.

#6. As Chief of Murfreesboro Police Department and with my years of experience with the Murfreesboro Fire Department, I feel I have already established a good working relationship with many of the local and state departments within our county. As Sheriff of Pike County, my department and I will continue to develop good relationships and will assist all of the agencies with their needs.    

#7. I want the citizens of Pike County to know that I will be fair, just and honest in the way that I run the Pike County Sheriff’s Department and that I will be available and willing to help with any problems they may have.