Crawford sheriff gears up for return; Blasingame, Thomas take commission seats

Blasingame, Thomas take commission seats

Telegraph staffNovember 7, 2012 

A day after winning re-election, Crawford County Sheriff Lewis S. Walker said Wednesday he plans to continue to promote professionalism and integrity in the department while staying focused on combating drug activity in the county.

He also touted the sheriff’s CrimeStoppers program in local schools and the planned implementation of a drug-prevention educational program called CHAMPS. Choosing Healthy Activities and Promoting Safety is 20-week program designed by the Georgia Sheriff’s Association to help young people resist pressures that may influence experimentation with drugs.

Walker, 52, who ran on the Democratic ticket, fended off a challenge from Republican Tom Wallace, a 58-year-old investigator with the sheriff’s office. There were 3,520 votes cast for Walker compared to 1,560 for Wallace in Tuesday’s election.

Walker shared much of the credit for winning a second, four-year term as sheriff. The Crawford County native credited his victory in part to nearly 25 years of experience and service at the sheriff’s office, having grown into the role of sheriff before the public, he said.

Walker also attributed his win to his command staff: his chief deputy and the captains over patrol, investigations, communications and the jail.

“Without these men and women here and the support from other employees, we couldn’t have made it,” Walker said. “They play a major role in the sheriff’s department.”

Walker waited for election results with family, friends and other supporters at a friend’s home. Wallace was at his home, joined by those who backed him for sheriff.

“I’m feeling pretty rejected,” Wallace said Tuesday after results were in. “But what can I say? The votes are what they are.”

A Crawford County native, Walker first won the seat four years ago upon the retirement of longtime Sheriff Kerry Dunaway. Walker faced opposition in both the primary and general election. He started at the sheriff’s office in patrol in December 1987. He was promoted to head of patrol in January 2006, a post he held until elected sheriff.

Crawford County Commission

The Crawford County Board of Commissioners will have a new member come January.

Making his first run at public office, Republican John Thomas defeated District 4 incumbent Democrat Gene Hamlin 561-400 in Tuesday’s election.

Thomas said Wednesday that his first step is to get familiar with county operations, but beyond that he has several objectives over the term.

He would like to explore the possibility of getting an animal shelter, clean up highways into the county and try to find occupants for some of the vacant industrial buildings in the county.

“We’ve got a nice business and industrial park with vacant buildings,” he said. “Everybody just about has to go to another county to work, and I don’t know why we can’t get some business in here.”

Thomas credited the win in part to the fact that he ran as a Republican, and the county voted strongly for Mitt Romney in the presidential race.

“I’ve been in the county 30 years, and I have a lot of good friends here, but Gene has too, and he’s a good fellow,” he said. “I just feel honored that the people would put me in this position.”

District 2 incumbent Bobby Blasingame, who was elected to the seat in 2008, held off a challenge from Republican Chuck Evans, who was also making his first run at elected office. Blasingame, a poultry farmer, won 649 to 454. He said he will continue to make road improvements a priority in his next term.

“I’m so grateful and thankful for the people of District 2 to let me be a voice for them and work for them for four more years,” Blasingame said. “I’d like to do for them what I’ve done in the past four years to keep the county moving forward.”

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559. To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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