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Campaign for sheriff heats up
Two challengers announce runs against Johnson
3QE0 Graphic of Sheriff s badge
sheriff's office

Several candidates have recently entered their bids for sheriff in the May 2020 election.

On July 3, retired parole chief and 27-year law enforcement veteran Jeff Perry announced his bid for sheriff on his “Jeff Perry for Sheriff” Facebook page.

Perry ran for election in 2016.

“I am excited to announce my campaign for Sheriff. My family and I have deep-roots here in Dawson County,” Perry said in his announcement. “I am running for Sheriff to serve the citizens of Dawson County because there is nothing more important to me than keeping our families safe, and bringing capable leadership to the top law enforcement position in the county.”

Perry currently teaches Criminal Justice in the Dawson County School system. He started the Criminal Justice program two years ago and teaches Intro to Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice Essentials and Criminal Investigations to students at Dawson County High and Junior High schools.

According to his announcement, Perry served as parole chief for 19 years over Dawson, Lumpkin, Union, Cherokee, Forsyth, Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties.

“I promise to bring effective leadership, employee accountability and fiscal responsibility to the office of Sheriff,” Perry stated.

In Perry’s announcement, he said he plans to initiate a fierce anti-drug campaign through education and enforcement, and a high priority of working with the accountability courts such as Drug Court, DUI Court and Family Court.

He also plans to set aside one day a month for citizens, if elected. Citizens Day will be an opportunity for members of the community to meet with the sheriff without needing an appointment. Perry said he will be in the office from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to meet with citizens. He would also like to conduct quarterly meetings or town hall meetings with the citizens.

Dawson County resident Marcus Sewell is also running for sheriff. 

Campaign signs for Sewell have been spotted on social media, but an official campaign page for Sewell has not been launched. The Dawson County News reached out to Sewell for more information on his campaign plans, but he was unavailable as of press time. More information will be posted on later this week.

Both men seek to challenge current sheriff Jeff Johnson, who was elected to his first term in 2016. Prior to his election, Johnson served as the commander of the Dawson County jail and has 26 years of law enforcement experience.

During Johnson’s time as sheriff, he has been met with positive and negative response.  

He has come under fire for his unsuccessful lawsuit against the Dawson County Board of Commissioners in which he sued for additional funds, an incident in which all on-duty deputies were discovered playing badminton and leaving the county unprotected during a late-night training session and most recently bad press surrounding an officer allegedly refusing to respond to a call at Nimblewill Gap Road.

He has also established a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team for the first time in Dawson County in 10 years, served on the Dawson Substance Abuse Coalition task force, facilitated the acquirement of a bomb detection dog for the county and installed a training simulator to provide additional training for officers without additional costs for fuel and ammunition.

Johnson said in a statement that in the past two and a half years, the sheriff’s office has also increased school safety, implemented greater patrol operations, obtained State Law Enforcement Certification and Medical Association of Georgia Accreditation, “all in order to better serve our community.”

“Although we are excited about past accomplishments, we are not content,” Johnson said. “We know that our community constantly changes and we must always strive to address these ever changing times. We are an office with proven results.”

Johnson said putting all political rhetoric aside, he is confident the community will make an informed and educated decision.

“It has been our honor to serve our people and we remain committed to our community, now more than ever,” Johnson said. “We will be launching a re-election campaign in the coming months.”