Four on the floor: Candidates present platforms at forum

Published 9:53 pm Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday night’s political forum at Jeff State Community College’s Clanton campus gave voters a glimpse at four local candidates — John Shearon and incumbent Kevin Davis, running for Chilton County sheriff; and Dave Hayden and Tommy Glasscock, candidates for Chilton County superintendent of education.

The forum moved quickly through several questions covering a variety of issues. Following are several of the questions presented and each candidate’s response:

Question 1 (to sheriff candidates): How will you support/promote good public relations between your staff and the general public?

Davis said being accessible to the public is important. He said one of the things he promised when elected four years ago was an open door policy.

“I publish my home number and my cell phone number for people to get in touch with me,” he said.

Davis also said patrolmen must be visible in all areas of the county and provide equal protection.

Shearon said that in addition to well-trained deputies, the department needs more patrolmen out on the road.

“We don’t have near as many deputies as we need here in Chilton County,” he said.

Keeping people better informed about the laws by which they must abide should be a priority, he added, as well as additional youth programs.

Question 1 (to superintendent candidates): What do you see as your role in securing additional funds for the Chilton County School System?

Glasscock’s response was something he kept coming back to: “It starts with building relationships.”

Maintaining key contacts on the county, state and national levels could secure more grant money for the school system, he said. He also expressed a preference for grants that do not require a local match.

“We have to know who controls the money,” Glasscock said.

Hayden said the superintendent should work to secure additional funding through grants, where possible and practical.

“We need to do what we can to get the money we can…one thing I will not do is ask the taxpayers for more money,” he said.

He added officials could do a better job of spending and budget planning for the tax money they already receive.

Question 2 (to sheriff candidates): In what ways do you plan on filling budget shortfalls in the future?

Shearon said that while budgets are tight, any potential budget cuts that could be made without jeopardizing citizens’ safety and officers’ safety should be considered.

He also said regular maintenance on pieces of equipment might offset future expenses.

Davis said grants are important to the sheriff’s office because they have purchased GPS devices, rifles and vehicles — items that could not have been afforded otherwise.

“That grant money has enabled us to put computers in all our patrol cars,” he said.

Question 2 (to superintendent candidates): Should all of our schools follow the same guidelines or should individual schools have flexibility in interpreting said guidelines in developing rules of their own? For example, dress codes and cell phone policies vary school to school.

Hayden said while there should be flexibility when it comes to planning for ballgames and other extracurricular activities, policies should be countywide.

“It’s Chilton County Schools,” he stressed. “We should have a set of rules and everybody follow the rules.”

Glasscock said all schools should be on the same page from the get-go. If one school has a uniform policy, all schools should require uniforms.

As for cell phones, he said, most students have them and their place in schools could change.

“We have to figure a way to take that cell phone…and let’s turn it into a teaching tool,” he said.

Question 3 (to sheriff candidates): Are there any services that you feel need to be added and, if so, what are they?

Shearon said he would like to see the sheriff’s department’s Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force reinstated. He added he would work to keep drugs off the streets.

Davis highlighted the need for a county animal control officer. He said he wanted to figure out a way to come up with funding for the position.

“We receive calls on a daily basis,” he said.

Question 3 (to superintendent candidates): What is your position on funding education with the lottery and/or gambling?

Hayden said that while the superintendent has little to no control over whether there is a lottery or gambling, he said he would vote “no” on the issue.

“When you start voting in gambling, you get all the ills that come with it,” he said. “A commitment to education without gambling is a big thing.”

Glasscock expressed similar sentiments.

“What we would have would be a Band-Aid,” he said, adding that a very small percentage of funding from a lottery would benefit the state’s education budget.