DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - Mississippians head out to vote Tuesday, November 8, 2011. One of the most contentious races they'll be deciding is for the sheriff of DeSoto County. Four candidates want the job and spent the day before the election campaigning.
"Our goal is to continue the strides that we've made since we've been here," said current sheriff Bill Rasco. "We've improved the equipment that the guys have got, the training they've got, everything we've done has been to make this department the best it can be."
Rasco told abc24.com he's modernized the department over the last three years. But one of his opponents, Former Sheriff James Riley, who spent 24 years in the job, wants some of those changes undone.
"I want the programs that have been discontinued from when I was sheriff back," Riley told abc24.com. "I want crime stoppers. I want the neighborhood watch. I want patrols back in the county and to stop the break-ins. We need to get the patrol cars off the interstates and let highway patrol men work the interstates."
Candidate and former deputy Ronnie Pollard told abc24.com a fresh face is needed.
"We need transparency at the sheriff's department," said Pollard. "There hasn't been a sheriff in history that has had transparency the way I want to bring transparency to DeSoto County. I want to hold semi-annual town hall meetings across this county. I want citizens to know where the $17.5 million dollar budget is being spent."
While Jim Caldwell's focus is on the department's employees.
"I want to implement a civil servant's job protection program for all the employees," Caldwell told abc24.com. "Now it's an at will system. They're at the whim or decision of one person. I want to get a board put in place where they'll have some job protection."
The candidate's focus may vary, but all four agree on one point.
"The public needs to get out and vote," said Rasco.
"We have 87,000 registered voters in this county and roughly 24,000 voted in the last election. I would really like to see a good turnout," said Caldwell. "Whichever way they choose."