Scott sheriff candidates share views during candidate forum

Holly Viers • Oct 20, 2019 at 5:00 PM

GATE CITY — All four candidates for Scott County sheriff got a chance to share their views with voters during Thursday evening’s candidate forum.

Hosted by the Scott County Chamber of Commerce, along with New Peoples Bank, Addington Oil, and Food City, the event welcomed candidates for Virginia State Senate 40th Senatorial District, Virginia House of Delegates First Legislative District, constitutional offices, Board of Supervisors and school board. Candidates were given questions prior to the forum and were encouraged to answer the questions during their speaking time, though it wasn’t required.

Candidates for sheriff were asked the following questions: “How can you strengthen the working relationship between the sheriff’s office and other county offices?” and “How does the sheriff’s department need to specifically change in order to serve the citizens of Scott County? Include in your answer your top priorities if elected.” Below are each candidate’s responses.

Jeff Edds (Republican)

“The first one, I’ve committed to the subject since I have begun my campaign … but we must partner with each other and possess the willingness to cooperate with each other. Then we need to listen to each other and have open lines of communication between the different agencies to effectively serve the citizens of Scott County. I assure you, I will have a great working relationship with all county offices and agencies within the county.”

“Second question, I have been listening to our citizens, and these are the concerns most often reported to me. If you have been following my campaign, you know that two of my top priorities are combating drug abuse and doing so in every community, not only in Weber City, Gate City and Route 23. The officers need to be in the communities; I hear that more often than anything else. They’ve got drug problems, also. Having an officer patrolling every community will build relationships with the residents in those communities, and that means meeting people, shaking hands, stopping, talking, introducing yourself, and it will include checking on the frail and elderly when it’s requested to do so.”

Greg McMurray (Democrat)

“To address the first question, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it, because I think it’s just professional courtesy between the offices. I intend to do that, and I’m sure each person in those offices would extend that same professional courtesy to me.”

“To address the second question, I worked here in Scott County as a deputy under my brother, Sheriff Daryl McMurray, and I retired from the Bristol Virginia Police Department. After retiring from the police department, I went to work as a supervisor for AGC Industries, supervising up to 35 people on a daily basis. I’m the only candidate with several years of management experience. If elected sheriff, I will use my law enforcement management background to make improvements to the sheriff’s office and will be focusing on several issues, including the safety of our towns and communities, with an emphasis on the youth and elderly; drug abuse education and prevention; community outreach and proper patrol; accreditation, training, grants, developing standard policies and procedures; cooperation with other agencies, budgetary concerns, fiscal responsibility and accountability; recidivism, the jail overcrowding, and alternative sentencing.”

Chris Holder (Independent)

“To answer the first question, any working relationship takes communication, and it’s a two-way street. It’s been my goal since I was appointed sheriff in March to have an open door policy with the different departments and with all the county offices and with the public. I believe the rule is that we treat people the way we want to be treated, and we all work together for the same reason and that’s to serve the citizens of this county.”

“As far as the second question goes, Albert Einstein quoted, ‘The only source of knowledge is experience,’ and experience is what I bring to the Sheriff’s Office, because I’ve been there 24 years. In my years of service with the Sheriff’s Office, I began as a jailer under Jerry Broadwater. I also worked the road as a deputy, I worked as investigator, chief of detectives, major, and currently now serving as sheriff. … My top priorities when I took over in March as sheriff was to serve the citizens of Scott County, first and foremost, by keeping them and their property safe, to increase the safety of our children in schools, from sexual predators, internet crimes and drugs. I have already assigned deputies to designated areas, which wasn’t done until March. I’ve reduced the crime on illegal drugs and increased our K9 program. We’re already seeing these results since March.”

Phillip “Tony” McClellan (Independent)

“The first question, you’ve got to have communication in anything that you do. You’ve got to be able to talk to people; you’ve got to have them to understand, you need to understand, and everybody needs to get along, and if you can do that, you can have communication. … If you have monthly meetings or anything, that would be great.”

“On the second one … if I was elected sheriff, my No. 1 priority is you and your children and your grandchildren. When I first moved here, you could go to bed with your doors open at night and your windows up, and you didn’t have to worry about nothing or nobody. Drugs wasn’t really bad. The worst thing we had around here was somebody smoking pot, somebody had a moonshine still, and that’s about what we had, but it has gotten so bad and worse. … I don’t see somebody arresting one of your kids or one of your grandkids for having a piece of a joint in his ashtray and making him a convicted felon and him have to live with that the rest of his life. It’s not right. Before you know it, marijuana is going to be legal. It’s going to be legal here, it is everywhere else. It’s no different than beer or a drink of liquor. … I’ll be a working sheriff. My door will be open all the time.”

*Note: This is the first in a series of stories from the candidate forum.