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Veteran lawman challenges sheriff
Ellison mug

A 25-year veteran of law enforcement has announced plans to run for Dawson County sheriff this year.

Kevin Ellison issued his challenge to four-term Sheriff Billy Carlisle, saying his experience as commander of the DeKalb County Police Department's North Precinct has given him the knowledge necessary to lead the local agency.

Carlisle said earlier this month he would seek a fifth term. Both men are running as Republicans.

Ellison, who likely will retire soon from DeKalb, said he's had his eyes on the Dawson post for several years. Originally from Norcross, he moved to the county nearly 13 years ago.

"I was looking at what all I could do in the future. And I've known several folks that worked there over the years," Ellison said of the sheriff's office.

"I felt like I could bring a new face to the game, and I could make some changes that could bring the department to the next level."

Ellison pointed to strategies in crime fighting he would like to see implemented, in addition to a new management style.

He said he also hopes to increase employee morale by tackling budget issues such as salaries.

"As a constitutional officer, you have a certain amount of authority over your budget and how much you use that authority to get what you need to keep your department functioning depends on the individual who is the sheriff," he said. "That's really one of the things I want to look at to see how we can raise the pay up."

Ellison began his law enforcement career with the uniformed division of the U.S. Secret Service in 1986.

After two years, he returned to Georgia to pursue his interest in street policing with DeKalb County police.

There he climbed the ranks and was promoted in 2006 to major and commander of the north precinct, where he oversees 100 officers and civilian personnel.

"The way I manage is I let the folks go out there and do their jobs. I give them tasks," he said. "I don't stand over them and tell them how to do it. If they want some help, I'll be glad to help them."

Ellison said he would lead the local agency as a working sheriff and problem solver.

"By doing that, they have a piece of the puzzle, a piece of the prize," he said. "It's just not all me. It's not just one person. Everyone has a piece of the success of the organization."

Ellison holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice with a concentration in organizational leadership from the American Military University and is pursuing a master's degree in military history.

In addition, he has more than 3,000 hours of law enforcement training.

He and wife Christy have been married for 24 years and have two teenage children who are students at Dawson County High School.

The family attends Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church.

Qualifying for the July 31 General Primary will run from 9 a.m. May 23 through noon May 25.