By Ginny LaRoe Staff Writer
Billy Long, a candidate for Hamilton County sheriff, told supporters Tuesday night that he plans to put resource officers back in schools, start a drug and alcohol awareness program and begin other community outreach he says has been lacking.
"Right now the sheriff (John Cupp) is not part of the community," Mr. Long told about 60 supporters, campaign workers, volunteers and other Democratic candidates for county offices at a kick-off rally.
Sheriff Cupp said he would put school resource officers in county schools immediately if money were available.
"We're doing something in the community all the time," he said.
Mr. Long, 53, is one of five Democrats interested in unseating the Republican sheriff, who has been in office for 12 years. The other Democrats who have qualified to run are Hank DeArman and Anthony W. Chatman.
Democrats James Swafford and Ronald Ray Parson have picked up qualifying papers, according to Hamilton County Election Commission records.
Republican candidates running against Sheriff Cupp in the May 2 primary are Dave Alverson and Andy Derryberry.
Mr. Long, an East Brainerd resident, said he worked in the sheriff's office for 31 years before retiring in August to run. He said he knows "every square of Hamilton County" because he has policed it.
This is his first political campaign.
One supporter who attended the rally said she is voting for Mr. Long because she supports his plans to be more involved in the community.
"He cares about our community with the DARE (program) and driver's education and resource officers," East Brainerd resident Susan Simmons said.
Candidates have until Feb. 16 to qualify to run in Hamilton County elections. The general election is Aug. 3.
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