By Ginny LaRoe Staff Writer
Five men with law enforcement backgrounds qualified for the Hamilton County sheriff's race.
All the candidates have worked for at least one year for the sheriff's office, and two served as chief deputies under incumbent Republican Sheriff John Cupp.
It is the first political race for all the candidates except Sheriff Cupp.
Andy Derryberry will face Sheriff Cupp in the May 2 Republican primary, while Democrats Billy Long and Hank DeArman square off in their party's primary.
The primary winners will be on the Aug. 3 general election ballot, as will Dave Alverson who qualified to run as an independent.
Democrat Anthony Chatman did not qualify because he was not certified by the state's Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission, which evaluates the candidates. Democrats Ronald Ray Parson and Jim Swafford picked up qualifying papers but decided not to run.
Sheriff Cupp said he is seeking his fourth consecutive term at age 74 because his health is good, and he wants to continue to build on "many positive things we've done to make this one of the best sheriff 's departments in the country."
Andy Derryberry, 47, who served as chief deputy for about 1 1/2 years ending in 2004, said he can manage a multimilliondollar budget as well as ensure public safety.
"Not only do I have over 21 years of professional law enforcement experience, but I also have business acumen," he said.
Mr. Derryberry said he would increase patrols in the county and communication with the public and county leaders. He also wants to create an identity-theft hot line, he said.
Mr. DeArman, 59, said he has about 35 years of law enforcement experience, including 25 with the county. He retired in 2005 to run for office.
He said more communication between the sheriff's office and the community is needed.
"I would just like to try to make a difference," Mr. DeArman said. "The department needs to be more of a part of the community instead of just a service of the community."
Mr. Long, 53, worked in the sheriff's office for 31 years before retiring in August to run. He said he is in tune with issues facing county residents because he has patrolled much of the area.
"All across Hamilton County people are supporting Billy Long because he has more local law enforcement experience than anyone else in the race," Marty VonSchaaf, Mr. Long's spokesman, said.
Mr. Long was an airborne trooper for the U.S. Army for three years and spent 17 years with the Tennessee Army National Guard. He has emphasized the importance of more community outreach, including the use of school resource officers and drug and alcohol awareness programs in schools.
Mr. Alverson, 67, said he qualified as an independent rather than a Republican as a "strategic move." He has about 45 years of law enforcement experience. He said he was a military police officer and special agent for the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Division.
He said he has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration and a master's degree in criminal justice education. He was chief deputy under Sheriff Cupp for eight years and retired in 2002.
"Based on my experience and education, I could fulfill the requirements of the sheriff's position," Mr. Alverson said.
The sheriff, who will earn a salary this fiscal year of $102,202, oversees a $23 million budget.
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