Friday, September 21, 2012

TOP STORY >> Sheriff hopefuls prepare for Q&A

Leader staff writer

The quarterly meeting of Cabot Chamber of Commerce members set for 11 a.m. Tuesday at the National Guard Armory will include a question-and-answer session with the candidates for Lonoke County sheriff.

Prosecutor Chuck Graham said Friday that chamber members have been asked to submit questions. He will sort through them over the weekend to eliminate duplications and add questions of his own if necessary.

Austin Police Chief John Staley, the Republican candidate, and Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Dean White, the Democratic candidate, will be given time for opening statements about their plans for the department before they start answering questions. They will also be given time after the question and answer period if they need it, Graham said.

Staley said Friday that he would like to see the questions beforehand.

“It would be good if we don’t have to stutter and stammer,” he said, adding that he always responds to questions honestly even when he knows his answers may not be popular.

Contacted Friday afternoon for sample questions, a chamber employee said questions were still coming in from members but those questions would not be revealed until the forum.

White said Friday morning that Graham invited him to the lunch saying he would be allowed to tell chamber members about himself and why he wants to be sheriff.

He was a little surprised to learn from the newspaper that he would be required to respond to questions, he said.

“But if they want to ask questions, I don’t have any heartburn with that,” he said, adding that he thought it would be best and also fair to let them take turns being the first to answer. And like Staley, White said, his answers will be honest regardless of what the audience wants to hear.

Staley is a lifelong resident of Ward and an alderman there. He has been in law enforcement since 2000. He has worked as a patrol officer, school-resource officer, field-training officer and chief crisis negotiator for a special response team.

White, who is 15 years older than Staley, has been in law enforcement for 26 years and 22 years of his career was in Lonoke County. He has worked his way through the ranks at the sheriff’s office.