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Posted: October 30, 2012 9:04 p.m.

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Sheriff hopefuls give last pitches

Both Democratic incumbent Sheriff Ezell Brown and Republican challenger Capt. Philip Bradford have said they're ready to move on from the issues raised at a recent debate and to get back to looking at who's the better overall candidate.

"I pledged to run with honesty and integrity and to respect the code of ethics associated with this office. From day one, that is exactly what I have done. My opponent, on the other hand, has raised unwarranted allegations against my competency to lead, as well as the qualifications of the men and women serving in the Newton County Sheriff's Office," Brown wrote in a statement.

"I have been repeatedly placed on the witness stand regarding the accusations posed by my opponent. I am most disturbed that these questions were one-sided and seemingly implied guilt. It is unfortunate that the campaign has been peppered with false accusations regarding fiscal responsibility, training standards and overall leadership capacity. Instead of discussing strategies for continuing the work we have begun, I have been forced to spend countless hours responding to these allegations," he said in the statement.

He noted that one additional accusation was that the sheriff's office recently promoted grant writer, Apryle (Brown) Jones, was his kin, but the sheriff said that was simply false.

Capt. Bradford agreed the race for sheriff was about more than three issues, but gave his rationale for raising them.

"The issues that I brought up during the forums with Sheriff Brown were concerns that were brought to my attention as I began my campaign by many concerned citizens and former deputies. My opponent in the primary, Bill Watterson, was so passionate about some of the same issues that he quit his job of 23 years as a deputy to challenge Sheriff Brown in this election.

"I do not want this race to be narrowed down to the issues of vests, budgets and school resource officer training. This race is about how I will bring quality leadership, transparency and accountability to the Newton County Sheriff's Office. My years of experience and training have prepared me for this job," Bradford said in an email.

"If elected sheriff, I will, from day one, be transparent and accountable to the citizens of Newton County for the decisions that I make. I will provide the deputies with the equipment and training they need to do their job. Our standards will not be based on minimum requirements and what is thought to be adequate. These deputies deserve the best training available. Quality leadership and training will in turn provide the citizens of Newton County with a more effective, efficient and professional sheriff's office.

"I will provide the high quality of law enforcement that the great citizens of Newton County expect and deserve."

However, Brown said his office had more than 20 accomplishments during the past four years.

"In spite of these repeated attacks, I have continued to manage the affairs of the (NCSO) as mandated by my office... We have achieved state certification, were honored to participate in a national event, received a million dollar congressional COPS hiring grant while successfully reducing crimes against persons, and receiving unanimous support from the board of commissioners to open an annex on Salem Road.

"I have repeatedly asked the citizens of this county to score my card, to review what I have done during my first administration," Brown said.

The race for sheriff will be decided during the Nov. 6 General Election; early voting is currently taking place until Friday at both the Newton County Board of Elections and Porter Memorial Branch Library.

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