SEBASTIAN COUNTY(KFSM) - The three republican candidates vying for the Sebastian County Sheriff position answered questions during a public forum hosted by the League of River Valley Voters (LRVV) on Monday.
Hobe Runion is the current chief deputy at the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office.
He says he’s banking on his 18 years with the sheriff’s department to earn him the promotion.
“Everybody sees someone with a star or a badge in a car with a firearm, and they think they're a police officer, but there's a difference. That’s only 25 percent of what we do versus a department where that’s 80 percent of what they do,” said Runion.
Jarrard Copeland is another candidate in the running. He was captain at the Fort Smith Police department where he worked for 25 years before retiring last May.
He said his strong desire to serve propelled him to run.
“I’m doing it because I have a strong desire to serve the citizens. I’m a strong believer in servant leadership,” Copeland said, “ And if the citizens of Sebastian County want me to be their sheriff, it’s going to be my goal to be the best sheriff they ever had.”
Randy McFadden has 20 years in law enforcement working as a reserve deputy sheriff for Sebastian and Washington Counties.
"I want people to know that I'm going to do the right thing. I'm going to have an open door policy. I’m going to lead by being proactive, dependable, leadership,” said McFadden.
During the forum, the LRVV had a list of questions they asked including how they would recruit new officers, challenges for funding for the position, and what they view as the top law enforcement problems. All candidates agreed that drugs are one, if not the biggest problems facing the county in the future.
Audience members also got to submit questions to be answered by the candidates.
If one of the three candidates does not get 50.1 percent of the voter, there will be a runoff in three weeks for the top two vote-getters.
The candidate who gets elected will be sworn in on January 1, 2019, so they will have a six-month window to develop a plan of action for when they star their new role in the community.
The seat is being vacated by Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck who has served since 2011.