Two candidates explain why they want the job.
With the conclusion of the filing period for the 2014 election, candidates are gearing up for the campaign season. While many candidates will not see their name on the ballot until the November general election, several local and state offices will have a primary in May to decide between candidates of the same party.
The Macon County News will cover candidate profiles on all primary candidates between now and May, and will then profile candidates vying for seats in November.
The Macon County Sheriff is one office that voters will take to the polls in May to decide which candidate will move on to the general election in November. With two Republican candidates and no democratic challenger, ultimately whoever wins the May primary, will win the seat.
Incumbent Sheriff Robbie Holland has filed for re-election to the position he has held for the last 12 years, and this year will face Republican challenger Bryan Carpenter.
Both Carpenter and Holland were asked the same questions for their candidate profiles.
Please give me a brief bio of yourself including personal, professional, education, and law enforcement experience.
Sheriff Holland: Holland’s career with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office began in 1991 as a student taking criminal justice classes at Southwestern Community College. Holland has served as an Animal Control Officer, Detention Officer, Deputy Sheriff, K-9 Officer, Juvenile Officer, Detective, and Detective Sgt. supervising the Juvenile Investigations Unit.
“It is because of these experiences with the MCSO that I gained the belief that each and every position is as important as the next,” said Holland. “Each position is about serving the public and doing our part to make a difference in our community. Each and every position held, I have remained dedicated to serving the public and making our community the safest place I possibly could.”
Holland has served on numerous boards and committees. He is past Chairman of K.I.D.S. Place (the local child advocacy center) and served two years as President of the North Carolina Juvenile Officers Association. Holland played a significant role in the passage of the "Infant Homicide Prevention Act" (better known as N.C.'s Safe Surrender law). He was awarded the North Carolina Juvenile Officer of the Year in 2000, Western Sheriff of the Year by M.A.D.D., recently was appointed by N.C. Governor to serve on the Safe Schools Task Force representing WNC law enforcement and is currently serving as chairman on one of three subcommittees on that task force.
“I am among the sixth generation of my family to call Macon County home,” said Holland. “I am the son of the late Arvil L. Holland, a native of Macon County and the late Terry and Fred Attwood of Lehigh Acres Fla. My grandparents were Donnie and Lester Holland of the Cullasaja Community. I have been married to Marci Bateman Holland for the past 20 years, who is a social worker with Macon County Schools. We have two beautiful children who are the loves of our lives, McKayla, age 7, and Mason, age 4. We are members of Pine Grove Baptist Church where we both have attended since childhood.”
Bryan Carpenter: After graduating from Franklin High School, Carpenter went to trade school, where he learned the business experience needed to be a local business owner. For the last three years Carpenter has worked for himself as the owner of Carpenter Transport in Macon County. As a local business owner, Carpenter remains concerned and involved in the community and the growth of Macon County. Carpenter has no direct law enforcement experience, and hopes to have the opportunity to learn about the office and the responsibilities that pertain to sheriff.
Growing up in Macon County, Carpenter has volunteered at several organizations through the community, including the local library.
Although he was born in Georgia, Carpenter has lived in Macon County for the last 27 years and comes from a long line of Maconians. “My great, great, great, and probably a few more greats need to be in there, served for the confederate army representing Macon County in the Civil War. My family has a long standing history here,” said Carpenter. “I am rich in history and knowledge for this community and the history that is here. Carpenter is married to Jessica Carpenter, and has one son, Kevin.
Why do you want to be Sheriff?
Holland: “My stance has remained the same my entire career, even long before being elected Sheriff,” he said. “I have always remained committed to making a difference in my community. I truly believe we are making a difference and I am proud of the many accomplishments we have made. While we have accomplished many great things we still have additional work ahead of us. I am confident I am the candidate that has the experience and the ability to continue leading our agency in the right direction. The citizens deserve the very best of the fair, honest and professional law enforcement officers that I have serving with me and this is what the citizens will continue to receive while I serve as Sheriff.”
Carpenter: “I want to be able to bring the hometown feeling back home,” said Carpenter. “I want everyone to be able to trust a cop. The way things are right now, everyone is always looking over their back. I want to help the community feel at ease. I want to get the crooks out of office and get the criminals in jail where they are supposed to be.”
What do you think is praiseworthy for how the county’s law enforcement is currently being run?
Holland: “Obviously I feel there is a great deal of praise that should be considered,” Holland said. “Within our county we have seen our property crimes decreased. We have seen our violent crimes decreased. We have seen our drug arrests increased.
This was accomplished because I established the Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit shortly after I was elected. We have seen our prevention efforts increased along with the numerous programs implemented.
We have a successful conviction rate for crimes committed against our citizens. We have seen an increased effort in patrols throughout our community and that extends to even the farthest ends of the county. We have seen more officers getting involved with our youth and in our schools. While this only names a few, these examples prove that I am an effective leader. I see to it that tasks are assigned and completed and that our goals are accomplished. Under my leadership, the MCSO has, and continues to be, a “pro-active” law enforcement agency. I have a great group of professional, hardworking, dedicated individuals working for me who strive daily to keep Macon County one of the safest communities in North Carolina. I’m proud of each of them and our community should be as well.”
Carpenter: “I think the county’s D.A.R.E. program is great and has been a tremendous asset for the young people in our community,’ said Carpenter. “I would certainly want to continue that program and make it more of a focus point for our community. Teaching children from a young age, when they are at the very beginning of their lives is important. I want to continue on other community programs like building a strong community watch that really involves officers. I want to build back the community’s trust in officers.”
What do you think can be improved on?
Holland: “Every day I am looking for ways to improve our agency and continuously looking for ways to better serve our citizens,” said Holland. “Every program we have initiated is evident of our willingness to step out and partner with members of our community providing results the citizens have come to expect to see.”
Carpenter: “I think stronger drug enforcement needs to be addressed,” said Carpenter. “I think the county needs to see more enforcement and officers should work harder to really crack down. We don’t need to let these guys slip through our fingers. Right now officers are working on the small guys, but I think we need to be focused more on the larger criminals. We need to work harder to detect the real problem and go straight to the source.”
What would be your five-year plan for the department?
Holland: “I have publicly stated to our county commissioners that it is my goal to have an officer in every one of our county schools,” said Holland. “That goal will be accomplished with a total of three additional officers assigned to our agency for our schools. While every child deserves the best education we also need to do our part to keep them and those within the school environment as safe as possible. During the next five years I also want to continue to expound upon prevention programs for our community as well as our youth. I am hoping that in the next five years we will also be able to take the additional steps needed in our efforts related to internet crimes against children and adults. With the tremendous increase in crimes committed via the internet we must take the necessary steps to keep up with the demands of investigating those cases and not wait until more of our citizens become victimized by predators across our jurisdictional boundaries.”
Carpenter: “If I was elected to office, I would focus on making the citizens feel comfortable. You know that feeling a child gets when they wrap up in a security blanket? Well, that is what I want to be for the community, a security blanket. Like I said before, I want citizens to feel like they can trust police officers again and just be more comfortable. I think getting more school resource officers is also something that is worth looking into. I think the roles of those officers need to be looked at too. Right now for example, the officers at Macon Middle School are only there in the morning helping direct traffic. I think they should be there when school lets out too.”
What do you see as the greatest challenge of being Sheriff?
Holland: “As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the county, the Sheriff ultimately has the greatest responsibility for providing the very best law enforcement services possible in order to protect the citizens he serves,” said Holland. “The elected Sheriff is also accountable to the taxpayers and expected to be a good steward of the monies allotted to him by the county commissioners and the citizens who pay their taxes. One of the greatest challenges a Sheriff has is being responsible for the safety and security of the citizens and balancing adequate law enforcement services with fiscal responsibility. As Sheriff, I have been fiscally responsible and will continue to do so if re-elected.”
Carpenter: “I think my greatest challenge would be being able to fulfill the shoes and do the job that everyone would expect me to.”
Any additional comments you would like to make?
Holland: “I appreciate the opportunities that the citizens of Macon County have given me and I hope they will allow me to continue serving as their Sheriff,” said Holland. “The one thing that I can guarantee them is that they will get the very best of me and the very best of those that serve alongside me. I am extremely proud of our accomplishments thus far and I am confident I am the best man for the job. I want to keep the Sheriff’s Office moving in the right direction… all in the best interest of the citizens we proudly serve.”
Carpenter: “I want to make a better, safer community for the county,” he said. “I promise to give it my all. I am not doing this for money or anything like that. I just want to make the citizens feel comfortable and able to trust police again.”