Monday, March 12, 2012
By The Outsider
Captain Scott Peebles made it official today, he will run for Sheriff. This did not come as a big surprise as Peebles has been considered for years to be Ronnie Strength's right hand man. Sheriff Strength has said he will not make an endorsement until after the July 31st general primary election, but its not a secret that Strength will be backing Peebles.
But complicating matters for Peebles and Strength is that Lt. Robbie Silas, who is Sheriff Stength's brother-in-law, has also expressed interest in running for the position. This is creating a rift in The Strength family. Sources tell us that the Sheriff implored his brother-in-law to not enter the race because he would only split the white vote and could hand the office to Richard Roundtree. So far, Silas has not made a formal announcement that he will run, but it is expected within days. Sources are telling us that remnants of The Southside Mafia political machine are getting behind Silas and asked him to run. The Sheriff's office is one of the last areas of local government where The Southside Mafia still has some considerable influence and we are being told that they are not entirely comfortable with Peebles, which should be code that they don't believe they could control Peebles.
Anyone who thinks that Peebles will be a continuation of Sheriff Strength's policing style may want to think again. At a packed 10am press conference at the Judicial Center, Peebles drew clear distinctions between his public safety philosophy and that of his predecessor. At the top of his list was adopting community policing strategies, something that Strength has been reluctant to do. It was clear listening to Peebles, that he wants the Sheriff's department to run more like that of a big city instead of a rural county. This particularly impressed activists from Harrisburg who have been calling for the Sheriff's department to adopt community policing strategies for years now. Peebles also said he would not hesitate to go before the commission to ask for necessary resources for his department. Strength has some times been criticized for not fighting cuts to his department more vigorously and asking for money to close a deputy shortage.
Peebles will likely run as a Democrat, despite having little in common with contemporary party leaders. Peebles is described as very conservative politically. The Sheriff's office is one of the few local partisan races, and running as a Republican in heavily Democratic Richmond County is a futile effort. The general primary election will be held on July 31st. If there is no Republican challenger, the Sheriff's race will be decided then, but for all intents and purposes it will be over then anyway despite having a challenger on the November ballot. The big question now is how many Republicans will cross over on July 31st to request a Democratic ballot to vote in the Sheriff's race.
Peebles is going to be counting on many of them to do just that to propel him to victory. But a hotly contested GOP congressional race will be held on the same day and voters will have to choose one or the other and not both. As we told you on Saturday, if enough Richmond County Republicans cross over to vote in the Sheriff's race, that could hurt local GOP candidates vying for the 12th District Congressional seat held by John Barrow. A candidate forum sponsored by the West Augusta Alliance will take place tonight at 7pm at The Warren Road Community Center. All 4 GOP candidates competing for the 12th US Congressional district seat have confirmed their participation. The general public is invited to attend.***
Sheriff Strength's Exit Could have Big Impact on District 12 Congressional Race
Sheriff Strength Calls It Quits
District 12 Candidate Forum Set for Monday