Earlier this month, longtime Dawson County resident Jeff Perry announced his campaign for Dawson County Sheriff. He also ran for election in 2016.
He is currently a teacher at Dawson County High School who established the Criminal Justice program. Prior to his career as an educator, Perry served for 27 years in law enforcement, most notably as a parole chief in charge of 2,500 parolees in the north Georgia region. He also served on the State Olympic Law Enforcement Command in 1996.
For Perry, some of his most pressing concerns that his platform addresses is the sheriff’s office budget, officer retention rate, drugs on the street and communication with citizens.
“As a taxpayer and my experience with dealing with taxpayer dollars, we have to be very careful about how we spend taxpayers’ dollars,” Perry said.
If elected, Perry said he would create a transition team that would help provide information as to how the budget is allocated. It would consist of community members, business owners, law enforcement officers that would provide advice, though the sheriff would have the final decision.
“You’ve got to have community buy-in before you have any success,” Perry said. “Let’s make a successful transition from this administration to this administration with the goal: how can we best protect the public and protect taxpayers’ dollars.”
Perry said he would practice results-based budgeting, meaning if a program is not receiving the desired results, Perry would allocate funds elsewhere that would be more useful.
“If we were funding something for that 12 month period and in that 12 months if we weren’t getting the effects that we wanted, then why keep funding that? Use that money somewhere else,” Perry said.
Looking at the county’s growth over the past three years, Perry said the growth hasn’t been enough to justify the recent increases to the sheriff’s budget.
“I will not ask for taxpayers’ dollars until I know where every single taxpayer dollar is going and whether it’s being used for success, whether we’re getting results from it,” Perry said. “If not, we’re going to look at that money and we’re going to close that program or that unit and put it where we need it.”
Another concern is retaining officers and keeping experienced officers within the sheriff’s office. Perry said it’s not always about the money, saying he’d like to have good leadership in place and make the office a good work environment, as well as providing incentives for officers who have completed, or are working towards degrees.
Perry also said he would like to establish a reserve officer program, a program in which participants would have some restrictions but would still serve with the sheriff’s office in a volunteer capacity.
“We send you to training and you have limitations, but you will help us put more boots on the ground and more eyes and ears on the streets,” Perry said.
Something else Perry would like to implement if elected is a Citizen’s Day each month where community members can come to the sheriff’s office without an appointment to ask questions and provide feedback. He would also like to hold quarterly town hall meetings out in the community, each at a different location to have increased visibility in the community.
“I think as an elected official you have to do that because they are the people who put you in office,” Perry said. “You work for Dawson County. You work for the citizens of Dawson County.”
Perry has lived in Dawson County since 1989. He is married to Lisa and will be celebrating 30 years together in August. He has a son and daughter-in-law, Jacob and Lindsey; a daughter, Jade; and a three year old foster child, Abel. He enjoys spending time with his family which includes a sit-down Sunday dinner at his mother-in-law’s home each week. He enjoys traveling, fishing, hunting, reading and playing golf as well as supporting and sponsoring athletic teams in Dawson County and being an active member of Liberty Baptist Church where he is a Deacon and currently serves as the Chairman of the Deacon Board.