A veteran lawman with more than 26 years in the field is the first to announce his campaign to be Dawson County's next sheriff.
Jeff Perry, 50, currently serves as a chief parole officer with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, a position he's held for the last 18 years.
"The job of sheriff is too important to leave to the inexperienced or to those who may lack the vision and leadership to effectively do the job," he said. "I believe I can bring a depth of experience to the sheriff's office that is unmatched, with 26 years of experience in law enforcement, tough decision making and in managing a budget and staff."
Earlier this year, five-term Sheriff Billy Carlisle said he would not seek re-election in 2016.
Perry said he brings the experience, leadership and a management style needed to run the department.
As a chief parole officer, Perry managed a district parole office consisting of seven rural and urban counties with a top goal of "keeping our families safe."
"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 I am committed to putting my experience to work to protect and serve the people of Dawson County," he said.
With deep roots in the community that date back many generations, Perry said running for sheriff of Dawson County has always been in his plans.
"My uncle, Randy Chester, was a sheriff here, and another great-great uncle, Charlie Crawford, was sheriff here also, and another uncle was chief deputy up in Lumpkin County, so I kind of got a feel for the sheriff's department from them," he said.
He said he also considered Carlisle a mentor and friend.
"I think Sheriff Carlisle has done a good job. I think we're indebted to him as a county," Perry said.
Perry completed law enforcement basic training in 1990. Since then, he continued his career with more than 1,565 hours of training, focused in the areas of tactical communications, improvised explosive devices, Georgia criminal law, gangs, drug ID/clandestine drug labs, VIP protective operations and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
He is also a P.O.S.T Certified firearms instructor.
Perry has served on numerous federal, state and local task forces. He was also assigned to the 1996 Olympic Law Enforcement Team State Olympic Law Enforcement Command and as a security supervisor for the 2004 G-8 Summit of world leaders.
He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Georgia Southern University and is currently completing his Master's in criminal justice at the University of North Georgia.
A member of Liberty Baptist Church, where he serves as the vice chair of the deacon board, Perry is also active in the community.
He is a Rotarian in the Dawson County Rotary Club, a charter member of the Dawsonville Civitan Club and a long-time youth community coach for soccer, basketball, baseball and softball.
Married for 25 years, he and his wife Lisa Perry, an assistant superintendent for the Dawson County School System, have two adult children, Jacob and Jade.