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Barrow to elect first new sheriff in 20 years

LAWRENCEVILLE - Barrow County voters on Tuesday will be asked to choose a candidate to replace a sheriff who had been in office for 20 years.

Joel Robinson will step down as Barrow's sheriff at the end of this year; a senior deputy with the county sheriff's office and a Winder police officer are vying to fill the vacancy.

Barrow voters will also elect a chief magistrate Tuesday, while the District 3 Board of Commissioners seat is up for a vote. Residents will help decide who fills a state Senate seat for the 47th District, as well. Here is a breakdown of the candidates in contested races that will appear on ballots Tuesday.


Candidates for Barrow County sheriff are Democrat James B. Bonnemer Sr. and Republican Jud Smith.

Bonnemer brings 23 years of military experience and 31 years in law enforcement to the table in the race for sheriff. A senior deputy with the Barrow County Sheriff's Office, Bonnemer pledged to set aside 10 percent of his salary, if elected, for education programs for youth and the elderly and intends to seek state certification for the department.

Bonnemer said he would also monitor budget requests from each department within the sheriff's office.

"We're going to try to work with what we have because I know it's going to be a rough year coming up when a new sheriff takes over," Bonnemer said, "but we're going to pull through it."

Smith has been in law enforcement for 10 years, with nine of those years spent with the Winder Police Department.

If elected sheriff, Smith hopes to work with city agencies to provide law enforcement services to the residents of and visitors to Barrow County. The candidate also favors curbing unnecessary spending.

"Being that we're in a trying time with our government and our financing, I want people to realize I'm a taxpayer, too," Smith said. "I want to use common sense in trying to provide quality law enforcement services without being a burden to taxpayers."

Additionally, Smith said one of the most important policies he plans to implement, if elected, is an open door policy.

"I want people to know the sheriff will be available to them for any questions or when any problems arise," said Smith, who also plans to seek state certification for the Sheriff's Office, if elected.

Chief Magistrate

Republican June Davis is seeking re-election as chief magistrate of Barrow County and is challenged by Democrat Johnny C. Smith.

Davis is seeking re-election to her third term. She served the city of Winder as a police officer for 20 years prior to running for office.

Davis said, if re-elected, she intends to continue to ensure fair and equal treatment for residents, conserve tax dollars and stay at or under budget.

"I've pretty much dedicated myself to this office," she said. "I have the experience and the knowledge to do the job, and I hope that the citizens will give me serious consideration."

Smith, a native of Dacula, is retired from the U.S. Army and is a deacon at Christ the King Baptist Church in Dacula. He served for 12 years on Barrow County's Board of Commissioners.

If elected, Smith said his main objective is to correct current budgetary issues. He also intends to operate under an open door policy and provide accountability in spending.

County Commissioner, District 3

Democrat Bill Healan is running for re-election as District 3 county commissioner and is challenged by Republican Steve Worley.

Healan holds a juris doctor from the University of Georgia and served as county attorney for Barrow for six years. The Winder resident was elected District 3 commissioner in a special election to fill the vacant seat.

"My plans are to create an even more open government in Barrow County," Healan said. "We have made strides in that area, but we still have a way to go."

Worley serves as public works director for the city of Monroe.

"I feel with my 25 years experience working with state, county and city government I can be a good commissioner for Barrow County," Worley said. "If elected, I plan to better communication and cooperation with citizens, municipalities, GA DOT and other state agencies."

The Bethlehem resident said he would like to see more SPLOST funds to go toward better roads, safer intersections and transportation alternatives.

State Senator, District 47

Republican incumbent Ralph T. Hudgens will face Democrat Tim Riley for the 47th District state Senate seat.

Hudgens, a resident of Hull, said if he is re-elected he intends to manage the state budget to reduce spending and eliminate the need to increase taxes for individuals and businesses.

"As chairman of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee," Hudgens said, "I would like to continue the ongoing search for a cost effective 'High Risk Pool' for health care for the uninsured in Georgia."

Riley holds a doctorate degree in community counseling and serves as an alcohol and drug abuse counselor. The Athens resident said his priorities in seeking election include restoring the $1.5 billion cut from education, finding solutions for regional transportation issues and creating a state trauma care network.

"(I also intend) to help fund PeachCare and assist the over three hundred thousand children that my opponent kicked out of the program," he said, adding he intends to work to set up significantly improved water resources for Georgia and address the more than $2 billion state budget deficit.