Candidates for Barrow County Sheriff to take part in Auburn forum

AUBURN - It's not quite the CNN/YouTube debate, but it's close.

Three candidates vying for Barrow County Sheriff will take part Wednesday in an Auburn forum that twists the format of typical sparring matches between political aspirants.

Hosted by Citizens for a Better Auburn, forum leaders invite residents to submit questions for the three candidates - via e-mail.

The group's president, Paul Brown, will moderate, asking submitted questions to the two Republicans and one Democratic candidate, a month before the Barrow County primary election in July. The forum starts at 7 p.m. in Auburn City Hall.

Brown called the sheriff's race a hot topic that warranted a forum prior to next month's primary. All questions should be submitted to the moderator at pbrown1734@bellsouth.net.

"Mainly, this is a forum for information," Brown said. "We don't want people trying to jump on folks, tear anybody down. We want a non-biased forum for the three candidates."

Brown said similar forums will be held closer to the November election for races in Barrow that have bearing on Auburn - contested judge races and the office of Barrow County Chairman, for example, he said.

Brown urged voters to "come and find out what the platforms for the candidates are, so you're an informed voter when you go to the polls," he said.

The three candidates hope to succeed Sheriff Joel Robinson, who declared he'll step down Dec. 31 after holding the office for a combined 20 years. Here's a candidate synopsis:

James B. Bonnemer Sr., Barrow County Sheriff's Office deputy, Democrat

A resident of Barrow County for nearly all of his 63 years, Bonnemer boasts a combined 30 years of law enforcement experience, 27 of which have come in his native Barrow County. Also a military veteran, he retired from the Naval Reserves in 1994 with a combined 23 years of serving in the Navy, Air Force and National Guard. He's also a member of the Carter Hill Masonic Lodge in Bethlehem.

"I always believed in helping the people," Bonnemer said. "Just like I did when I was on the road."

Maj. Murray Kogod, Barrow County's chief deputy, Republican

Kogod has 12 years' experience in law enforcement and has served as an assistant district attorney with the Northeastern Judicial Circuit. He earned a degree in government and politics and is an active attorney with the State Bar of Georgia. Current Sheriff Robinson is serving as Kogod's campaign chairman.

"I plan to continue the progressive and proactive measures the department has implemented," Kogod has said.

Sgt. Jud Smith, Winder policeman, Republican

Smith, a lifelong Winder resident, graduated from Winder-Barrow High School in 1994. He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in public administration. Smith has served 10 years with the Winder Police Department.

"If elected, I plan to seek state certification for the sheriff's department, then national certification," Smith has said. "I'm going to implement some educational programs for the kids about Internet predators from elementary up to middle school and get them early."

SideBar: If You Go

What: Barrow County Sheriff Forum

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Auburn City Hall, 1369 4th Ave.

For more information: E-mail candidate questions to moderator Paul Brown at pbrown1734@bellsouth.net.