News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, July 19, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- We are less than two weeks away from the Georgia primary, and the heated race to be Richmond County's next top cop is showing no signs of slowing down.
All six candidates running for Richmond County Sheriff went head to head Thursday night in Augusta.
The NAACP held the final forum before the July 31st election. It was a lengthy forum addressing issues from First Friday to the budget.
For some voters it was just what they needed to make a decision.
Willie James Jackson came into the last sheriff's forum with a lot of questions.
"I am very happy because I got what I was looking for, because I got the thought pattern that I needed," he said.
More than 200 people filled the New Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church to ask questions and make some final decisions on who will be the next sheriff of Richmond County.
"[It's] the last hoorah, the last opportunity for the citizens who are not on vacation, out on the town, doing other things, to come and to hear these candidates reach out and say, 'Hey I am the best man to lead this county as sheriff,'" said Dr. Charles Smith, president of the Augusta NAACP.
All six candidates, Mike Godowns, John Ivey, Scott Peebles, Richard Roundtree, Freddie Sanders and Robbie Silas, answered questions and talked about how they'll lead.
"The questions that were asked were real informative, very serious and that's what we needed tonight," Smith said.
The questions ranged from violence and helping the youth to officer conduct and managing the budget. All the questions were submitted by community members, some still trying to make a decision before the July 31st election.
"I'm sure most of those left tonight probably having a renewed strength," Smith said. "I have a renewed strength because I have to choose between one of the six and they're all my friends who I will vote for who I think will be the best person to help lead this community."
For Jackson, he says it is a tough decision but one that he made at the forum.
"They are all very, very qualified, I think, but it was one that just impressed me so much more than the others," he said.
The forum got a little heated. Peebles and Roundtree really challenged each other, but in the closing statements, almost every single one of them made a point to say what a great race this is and how much respect they have for each other.