Veteran lawman Maj. Jeff Johnson last week announced his intention to run for Dawson County Sheriff.
Johnson, 45, currently serves as commander of the agency's detention center. He is also the department's firearms and defensive tactics instructor.
"The office of the sheriff is a complex entity," he said. "Your sheriff must be well experienced in these areas in order to effectively lead and command. A sheriff must possess the first-hand knowledge and ability to assess these issues. Otherwise, he or she is simply relying on the advice of others."
Johnson said his experience over the last 23 years, which includes detention, patrol, courts, investigations, specialized assignments, training, internal affairs and community programs, positions him well to hold the office of sheriff.
"If it were not for the experience I have gained over the years, I would not even consider running for this most critical office. The stakes are too high," he said.
Earlier this year, longtime Sheriff Billy Carlisle announced he would not seek re-election to a sixth term in 2016.
Johnson said his motivation to run for the office is simple.
"As a county resident for over 31 years, I have a vested interest in our people, our county, and our safety. This is where I work, where I worship and where I play," he said. "Dawson County deserves no less than a true, experienced candidate who will place the county's needs far above their own."
Johnson believes that one of the greatest issues facing the sheriff's office is the increased exposure to liability.
"A law enforcement officer has the authority to seize and take someone's freedom. Anytime a person is taken into custody, the county's exposure to liability increases," he said. "We must always make certain that our actions, our policies and our procedures are always conducted in accordance with state and federal law."
Johnson said reducing victimization through sheriff sponsored training events, such as firearms training, women's self-defense and reducing work place violence, would be among his top focuses once he's sheriff.
"I believe in empowering our county to safeguard themselves and their families. As your sheriff, these programs will be increased," he said.
Johnson encourages the people of Dawson County to exercise their due diligence by thoroughly evaluating all candidates.
"We must elect the most experienced and most qualified candidate. Basing a vote on anything less is a disservice to us all," he said.
For Johnson, family is the driving force behind his commitment to public safety.
Married to Lisa Hodge Johnson, the couple has two adult sons; Zach, a student minister in Alabama, and Josh, a Dawson County High School graduate enrolled at the University of North Georgia pursuing a degree in Health and Physical Education.
"I seek not power, nor wealth, nor a retirement position. I do however, desire to continue to serve in a calling that I have dedicated my professional life to," he said. "Our people, our county and our way of life are far too precious to sacrifice."
Johnson is the third candidate announcing intention to run for sheriff in next year's election.
Jeff Perry, 50, who currently serves as a chief parole officer with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, and Dawson County Sheriff's spokesman Capt. Tony Wooten are also running for the office.
All three candidates are republicans.