Woodward, Okla. —
Thursday night the Woodward County Republican Women held a primary forum introducing all the Republican candidates up for election in Tuesday's primary.
The biggest local race this year is for Woodward County sheriff, for which there are 2 Republican candidates, current Sheriff Gary Stanley and former sheriff Les Morton. Republican voters will decide in Tuesday's primary whether Stanley or Morton will face off with the Democrat's choice between Democratic candidates Joe Adams and Monte Martin.
Since Tuesday's election is only a primary, the Republican Women's group only invited the Republican candidates to speak at Thursday's forum. Both Democratic candidates were in attendance though, with both Martin and Adams saying they were interested in hearing what their Republican counterparts and potential opponents had to say.
SHERIFF CANDIDATES INTRODUCE THEMSELVES
The candidates were allowed to introduce themselves, share their qualifications and briefly describe what their main goals for the office were before the forum was opened up to the audience for questions.
In his self-introduction, Stanley focused on all of the improvements that has gone on at the sheriff's department and county jail since he took office in 2008.
Stanley has been in law enforcement since 1973, when he started out in the Woodward Police Department. He then spent a short amount of time in the oilfield before going back to law enforcement. He spent a year as an Oklahoma City police officer, then came back to be a deputy for the Woodward County Sheriff's Department. While at the sheriff's department he served 3 1/2 years of that time as undersheriff. Stanley then spent 10 years with the district attorney's office before running for sheriff in 2008.
Stanley said he considers the main duties of the sheriff to be maintaining the jail, keeping the civil process and providing courthouse security.
Stanley said, "When I became sheriff, the jail was overcrowded, so we got a new sales tax and started work on a new jail."
When the jail was finally completed last fall and the inmates moved over, he said, "It was nice to have room for all of them."
But the inmates didn't find it as "homey," he said. That's because "the new jail is open and has a lot more cameras and security in it. This allows our guards to keep a better eye on the inmates and reduces the fights in the jail," Stanley said.
The sheriff also filled the group in on how he has helped build the department through equipment purchases.
"We got a new Tahoe and converted it to CNG which saves us $2 per gallon and will allow us to have the Tahoe paid off sooner," Stanley said.
In addition, he said, "We have gotten 5 new in-car cameras for the patrol cars." He said these cameras not only allow us to see if an officer is being unprofessional, but can also be used as evidence for when the officer is not in the car and the suspects in the back seat start talking.
Once Stanley finished, Morton took the floor.
Morton has been in law enforcement since 1975 when he started as an officer in Kiowa, Kan. Then he was hired by Woodward Police Department in the early 1980's and worked there for 21 years until he retired at the rank of lieutenant. He then ran for sheriff and was elected in 1997 and was sheriff for 12 years until being defeated by Stanley in 2008.
Since then he has served as a reserve deputy for Harper county and currently works at William S. Key in Fort Supply.
"One of my biggest pet peeves that I have faced as sheriff and a police officer has been the war on drugs," especially when it came to methamphetamine, Morton said.
"As sheriff we took down many meth labs in the county and it was a big deal to me then and still is," he said, noting the battle against drugs is ongoing.
"Rural theft is the other thing that I take personally," Morton said, noting, "It ticked me off when any type of theft took place in Woodward county, because it is my job to keep my people safe and to make sure this stuff didn't happen."
Other issues that Morton feels needs more attention are child abuse and molestation and crimes against the elderly.
"I'm a firm believer in standing up for the people of Woodward County, I want everyone to be protected," Morton said.