News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Aug. 27, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- He calls him his best friend in the world. Sheriff Ronnie Strength is endorsing Freddie Sanders to be the next sheriff of Richmond County.
"My job as a sheriff is to enforce the law," said Republican nominee for Richmond County Sheriff Freddie Sanders. "I have got to make sure that the people don't shun me because there is an 'R' by my name. Look at who is the best candidate."
Sanders, a former police chief himself, just snagged a major endorsement from Strength.
"I always hoped he would once all the dust settled," said Sanders with a smile.
Strength ran as a Democrat and is now "without hesitation or second thoughts" endorsing the Republican candidate for sheriff.
"I have all the confidence in the world in Freddie Sanders. He can do the job," Strength said. "I know what this community needs. I know what our citizens want."
Sanders and Strength's partnership dates back more than 40 years.
"I worked for him when he was police chief of the county police department," Strength said.
The sheriff is now backing Sanders to follow in his footsteps.
"He has the experience," Strength said. "The integrity is there. And to top it all off, this is the best friend I have."
"I'm grateful that he would do that," Sanders said. "He would not have done it if he didn't believe it in his heart."
Like Strength, Sanders is pledging to tackle the criminal element.
"I do not believe in locking people up for crimes that are not violent crimes," Sanders said. "When it comes to robbing people, shooting people, committing all these violent crimes ... you are not going to like me because I have no sympathy for you whatsoever. You need to be in jail."
Stength's statement reads:
"Without hesitation or second thoughts, I will endorse and support my close friend Freddie Sanders for Richmond County sheriff in the November general election.
Winning in November will be difficult but, if it can be done, Sanders can do it. He has the background and experience in law enforcement and will be a great choice.
Voting for and electing a sheriff should not be about Democrat or Republican. It should be about the most qualified person.
I am asking our voters to start working today and support Freddie Sanders for sheriff."
Roundtree's campaign issued the following statement in reaction to the endorsement:
"I certainly understand and respect the sheriff’s decision to support his friend. Endorsements are fine but I have always said this is the people’s campaign. The response of the people has been tremendous.
I respectfully disagree with the sheriff about his statement concerning political parties but I reach out my hand and ask every person for their support.
Only by working together can we bring the community together, heal any wounds and work towards a brighter future.
Thank you and I look forward to continuing the people’s campaign."