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Sullivan County sheriff's race rivals answer questions

April 13th, 2014 9:13 am by J. H. Osborne

Sullivan County sheriff's race rivals answer questions

BLOUNTVILLE — Below are the unedited answers to three questions posed by the Kingsport Times-News to the two Sullivan County sheriff candidates running in the Republican party primary on May 6, Sheriff Wayne Anderson and County Commissioner Ty Boomershine. The questions were submitted in writing and each candidate was asked to limit each answer to 200 words or less.

Q. What do you support when it comes to limiting or prohibiting the availability of over-the-counter medications that are used in the production of meth? Should they remain available, but with a limit on how often they can be purchased without a prescription? Or should they become available by prescription only? What are the reasons for your position?

Anderson: I support making products containing pseudoephedrine available by prescription only. That is the only way we are going to drastically decrease the amount of meth manufactured locally and statewide.

I know the move would be inconvenient for law-abiding citizens but, at the same time, those same citizens have to pay the price for the damage caused by meth production. Each year thousands of dollars of taxpayer money is spent to clean up meth labs. Last year alone the SCSO worked 48 meth labs. Those investigations took hundreds of manpower hours, resulted in dozens of homes being quarantined and affected numerous families. The worst part of all is the number of innocent children that are affected by the toxic environment created by meth production. To me, that is devastating. We have to do something to stop the toll meth is taking on our children and our region and I truly believe making products that contain pseudoephedrine only available with a prescription is the only way.

Boomershine: A. Methamphetamine presents new challenges for law enforcement, including confrontation with a new breed of offenders, an increase in crime rates, and an increase in health and safety risks. Meth users also may exhibit aggressive and violent behavior. Meth users will do anything to get their next fix. They often commit crimes — from petty theft to robbery and even murder — to obtain cash for their habit.

I believe our legislators will put together a combination of limiting the amount of medication that individuals can purchase, and monitoring those individuals that purchase excessive amounts of the medication. I do not like the prescription-only theory. That method of regulation punishes law-abiding citizens because of actions of others.

I believe the solution should impact the law-abiding citizens the least possible and limit the amount of medication to those who abuse it. Whichever direction the Tennessee Legislature takes with this issue, it's obvious that there needs to be changes to the current situation.

Q. When Sheriff Anderson sued for more funding last year, even the attorneys hired to fight the lawsuit pointed out that expert analysis of current staffing showed a need for more officers to adequately serve the department's coverage area. If you do not agree, why not? And if you do agree, what will you do about it in the next four years?

Anderson: The bottom line is residents expect and deserve a certain level of service. We get dozens of requests from the public each week to do patrol checks and radar saturations. We should be able to honor those simple requests. The problem is we can't get to all requests with just nine to 12 officers on a patrol shift, especially when they are responding to an average of 1,200 plus calls for service each week. Aside from that, patrol officers are also required to transport mental health patients which takes them away from their assigned zone until that transport is complete.

I have and will continue to strive to find ways to maximize efficiency with the number of officers we have. I will also continue to work with county commissioners to help them better understand the inner workings of the Sheriff's Office. Many commissioners had no idea what the Sheriff's Office was up against until a subcommittee was recently formed to look at the problems we are dealing with. I also plan to continue working with commissioners on both a short-term and long-term plan to meet the needs of this county.

Boomershine: A. The $10 million lawsuit against the taxpayers of Sullivan County was wrong and unnecessary. This is evident by the fact that the Sheriff's Office has functioned nearly two complete budget cycles without the funds the taxpayers were told were necessary to operate the office. During this time of record unemployment and economic downturn, most all other Sullivan County departments made significant budget cuts. The county was struggling with an already strained budget. This was not the time to add significant numbers of personnel to the payroll. The $10 million in additional spending was hard to comprehend after the sheriff's budget had nearly tripled during his administrative tenure. If he would have been successful in his lawsuit against the taxpayers, the tax rate would have needed to be raised an additional 30 cents to cover the budgetary increase. To be fair to the attorneys, I believe they handled the case as the situation was presented to them by the plaintiff. It seemed that no other options were explored, and the only compromises brought forward were primarily a situation of raise expenses, add more personnel to the payroll, and hand the bill to the taxpayers. Sullivan County was compared by the expert (answer cut at the 200 word mark).

Q. If you could make one wish and as a result have 100 percent compliance with one current law, which law would you wish to be universally obeyed in Sullivan County?

Anderson: If I had to pick one law, without question it would be illegal drug use. The majority of all crimes can be traced back to some type of drug activity. Thefts, robberies, assaults and even most homicides can be linked to drugs. Our jails are flooded with people who have either been using or selling drugs or have committed some type of crime as a result of their drug use. Drugs are the cancer of this society. They are destroying families and killing our loved ones. Last year Sullivan County had one of the highest rates of babies born addicted to drugs in the entire state. That is no way for an innocent child to begin their life and it breaks my heart to think about that. For those reasons, my wish would be for 100 percent compliance with drug laws.

Boomershine: The one law I wish could be universally obeyed is domestic violence. Domestic violence crosses all socioeconomic barriers. The victims of this violence are scarred by this emotionally and physically. This crime has a high propensity to reoccur for years. The level of violence almost always escalates and increases the likelihood of death or serious injury. It demoralizes the family's structure. Children are adversely affected by the psychological side effects of domestic violence. Statistics show that many of these children are at high risk of becoming alcohol or drug dependent, and have a higher likelihood of incarceration. Domestic violence calls are also among the most dangerous calls that an officer responds to. Because the current domestic violence laws ensure that someone will be arrested, this causes a greater strain on an already overloaded justice system. As a patrol officer and an Investigator, I saw domestic violence tear families apart. I saw children grow up and accept violence as a way of life. I would like to see that cycle broken so children can grow up in peace. The quality of life for so many people would improve if domestic violence is eliminated.

Early voting for the party primaries begins at the Sullivan County Election Office in Blountville on April 16 and expands to satellite locations at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium and the National Guard Armory in Bristol on Apr. 24.

City residents vote in county elections.

Registered voters may vote at any early voting location. On Election Day, however, they must vote at their assigned precinct.

Early voting ends at all three locations on May 1.

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