The attending candidates, James Chapman, Mark Moon, Charlie Turner, Kevin Price, and Ronnie Chastain, were each given 5 minutes to inform those attending of their qualifications, and what makes them the ideal candidate for the Blount County Sheriff’s position.
Candidate Chase Ramsey was not in attendance for this forum.
The candidates, whose stage position was determined by a blind draw, each gave exceptional bios and a long list of qualifications to promote themselves as the best candidate.
Below is a short synopsis of what each candidate said about themselves and their aspirations as sheriff, if elected:
Former 19-year Oneonta Police Chief James Chapman said, “I was not born and raised here; however, I have lived here on purpose since 1985.”
Creating a better sheriff’s office will definitely consist of a re-building process, says Chapman. He noted there are currently training issues, low pay, and the need for more accountability.
Chapman said, “I intend to better the Blount County Sheriff’s Office by creating better pay, and a better work environment. I have experience with budgets, spreadsheets, and I never went over budget when I served as police chief. I have this leadership quality.”
Mark Moon, a 12-year full-time veteran of BSCO, said, “I love this county. I have never said I wanted to move. I want to work here. I have something very special for this job.”
Moon, a Cleveland native, believes his 12-year experience at the sheriff’s office, his National Guard experience, and serving as a Baptist preacher since 1998 has helped him develop the skills needed to command the sheriff’s department.
Charlie Turner, who was born and raised in Blount County, also believes his previous employment as a Blount County deputy, and his military experience have provided him “a firm foundation” to take control of the sheriff position.
He said, “I am here for the people of the county. I want to rebuild it to what it should be and make it a better place to work.”
Current Alabama State Trooper and former candidate Kevin Price noted his extensive education and training, military experience, reserve deputy experience, and his current position will allow him to do the best job possible, if elected.
Price said, “The people in this county have suffered. Law enforcement’s job is to serve the citizens in this county. I will put people first. I will listen to the concerns of the citizens. I will put men back on the road, treat everyone the same and be held accountable to the citizens.”
Last, but not certainly not least, Lt. Ronnie Chastain, also a Blount County native, focused on his prior experience as both a reserve and as a full-time Blount County deputy.
Chastain said, “Lots of things need to change. We’ve got some of the best of the best. You have to treat people like you want people to treat you. We need to get morale back up at the sheriff’s office, and all people in the 655 square miles of Blount County need to be treated the same.
“Blount County is my home. I don’t want to be anywhere else. Blount County has the best people. I want to be a servant and we need to serve the people.”
Throughout the forum, each candidate was asked to respond to the same set of questions such as, “Do you support the conceal and carry law?” “What is your position on more boots on the ground in the western part of the county?” “Do you feel it is important to get more citizens involved?” and “What do you think about arming teachers and other administrators to protect our children?”
While all five candidates were basically in agreement on all questions asked, they were given 90 seconds to individually respond.
The candidates generally focused on educating and training officers better, treating everyone the same, holding people, including themselves, accountable, fair pay and putting more deputies out into the county to serve the people.
Prior to the forum, lieutenant governor candidate Will Ainsworth from Guntersville spoke briefly regarding the focus of his campaign.
Ainsworth noted the five areas of his campaign’s focus includes having leaders that the state can be proud of, have better technology in all schools, encourage work force development and vocational training, allow teachers to be armed in order to protect students, and Alabama being a prime state for further development, which includes offering incentives for existing businesses.
BamaCarry County Leader Stephen Mizelle, moderated the night’s event and thanked SwampTails and the candidates for their participation.
Mizelle said, “BamaCarry hopes this helps voters to make good and informed decisions as they elect a new sheriff.”
The next candidate forum will be held on Thursday, March 15, at the Hayden Community Center from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Hosted by the West Blount Chamber and sponsored by the town of Hayden, this meeting is open to the public. All candidates seeking local offices have been invited to attend.