Drew County Sheriff Mark Gober and Ronnie Adcock, Gober’s opponent in the May primary, squared off Saturday night at a candidate forum sponsored by the Barkada Community Association.

Gober, who is seeking a fifth term, touted his experience, desire to help people, and love for his job, while Adcock, a Drew County businessman and former deputy sheriff who served two terms on the Drew County Quorum Court, outlined changes he believes are needed in the sheriff’s office.

Adcock said the first thing he is going to do, if elected, is get the sheriff’s deputies out of the city of Monticello and back out in the county.

“A lot of them stay in the city now,” Adcock said. “I don’t know why they do that, but we’re gonna get them out in the county and we’re going to work with the city, so we’re not going to completely leave them.”

Responding to Adcock’s comment about deputies working inside the Monticello city limits, Gober said he’s not going to get out of the city of Monticello.

“The people of Monticello elect a sheriff, they’re no different from any one of us out here,” Gober said. “I don’t see a city limits. When people in the city limits come and say ‘I had a theft or break-in. I want you to investigate it.’ I don’t say ‘Go over there, that’s not my department.’ If you live in the city limits and you want me to help you, I’m elected to do that. I’m paid to do that and I will do that…,” Gober said.

“There is no dividing line,” Gober said. “I’m the sheriff of Drew County, the chief law enforcement of the county. I know my job and it’s simple: you serve the people, all the people wherever they might be. I’m proud of my job and I’m proud of the people who work for me.”

Adcock said he didn’t say he wasn’t going to help Monticello, but Monticello has plenty of officers.

“We’ve got people out in the county that need law enforcement too,” Adcock said. “We can’t sit uptown all the time. If you get up there sitting, who is looking over the county?

“We’ll help the city,” he said. “If somebody’s got a problem in the city, we’ll take care of it; we sure will. City police officers can take care of their own but we can back them up and we can take care of something if we need to.”

Outlining other changes, Adcock said he would to try to get a State Police investigator back in the office. “I don’t know why they took them out but they’re not in there anymore,” he said.

He said he would also try to get a law enforcement officer out at the Drew Central School District, get a county trash cop, and 20 to 25 part-time officers.

Asked if the sheriff’s office has the funds to pay the part-time officers, Adcock said it does. “There’s already money for that but they don’t use it for that for some reason, as far as I know,” he said.

Addressing a rumor that he is going to fire everyone in the sheriff’s office if he is elected, Adcock said he may move some people around but as long as the existing personnel does things his way he has no intention of firing anyone.

“I don’t plan on firing anybody,” he said. “We may move them around but we don’t plan on firing nobody at first. We’re gonna give them a couple of months to do things our way which is work in the county and get out of the city.”

Touting his experience and ability to remain calm under pressure and get positive results, Gober said a sheriff has to know what he’s doing.

“You’ve got to make quick, decisive decisions… and I’ve made some good decisions,” Gober said. “Recently, we’ve had some high-profile crimes, unfortunately; but all of those came to the end that it needed to come to, meaning arrests with good cases.”

Before he was elected sheriff in 2005, Gober was a sergeant at the state Department of Correction where he managed five departments, three of those with budgets.

“People admired the way I organized my departments and the way I ran my budgets,” Gober said. “Other prisons from Pine Bluff or prisons from up north would come down and see how I was running things. That says a lot. But I wanted to do more.”

Gober said he ran for sheriff because he wanted to help people. “I never thought about a badge, I never thought about a gun,” he said. “I thought about what I can do to help people.”

Gober said he respects people, is fair, honest and is doing the job Drew County elected him to do.

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