Richmond Co. sheriff candidates prepare for 'battle' Tuesday

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Nov. 5, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- News 12's Laura Warren sat down with Democrat Richard Roundtree and Republican Freddie Sanders the day before the final election, and no question was off limits.

The candidates are calling it the most important election in Richmond County history, but that's about the only thing they agree about in this race.

Roundtree says, "I think the historic nature of it is important, because it shows young children that you can achieve and overcome a whole lot of obstacles."

But opponent Sanders says race isn't the issue.

"This election is not about race, you should vote color blind, vote for qualifications," he said.

But, it will be a historic election nonetheless. If Roundtree wins tomorrow, he will be the county's first African-American sheriff.

"A lot of people make this about race, but I think it's about hope and not just race," he said.

But Sanders says Roundtree is just depending on the voters who will vote based on color.

"I think it's insulting to pander to the African-Americans and say you don't have to see me, vote for me, because I'm an African-American and I'm a Democrat."

Sanders says Roundtree has refused to debate him face to face, but Roundtree says that isn't the case.

"I don't think that was a point of contention, I think that was something that Freddie Sanders' camp put out, it wasn't something we put out, and I don't think it was something the people demanded either," Roundtree said.

Sanders says he is worried voters will stick to party lines tomorrow instead of really looking at the candidates' backgrounds.

"Absolutely I'm concerned, I'm concerned that they will vote Democrat or not look at the qualifications," he said.

Sanders says between the two candidates, he has the most qualifications for the job, saying, "I'm running against an opponent that has never held the rank of supervisor for any length of time."

But Roundtree refutes that statement, saying, "I was lead homicide investigator for eight years, I was violent crimes supervisor for five years, for the last three years I've been the field operations supervisor for the Board of Education Police Department."

Each candidate has a very different approach to law enforcement: Sanders vowing to be tough on crime, while Roundtree's focus is on community involvement.

But, despite their differences, both candidates do agree on one thing: "It is probably the most important election in Richmond County because it involves the safety of the community," Sanders said.

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