FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The recent announcement that a write-in candidate has entered the Forsyth County Sheriff’s race has again cast uncertainty on who will lead the office next year.
David Townsend “D.T.” Smith, a lieutenant colonel with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office headquarters bureau, has been certified by the county election board as a write-in candidate for the sheriff’s seat.
Smith, 59, admits he is the underdog and will have to remind his supporters his name is not going to appear on the ballot because he is a write-in candidate.
Forsyth County voters head to the polls on Nov. 6 to cast their presidential preference ballot.
Whoever gets elected to the sheriff’s post will oversee a $37.5 million budget and about 400 employees.
Duane Piper, a former sheriff’s deputy who won the Aug. 21 runoff election against incumbent Sheriff Ted Paxton, will have to continue his campaign.
His advantage is that his name will be the only one printed on the ballot under sheriff.
Smith, who had an unsuccessful run for the seat of sheriff in 2000 against Paxton, told the Forsyth Herald he has always wanted to serve the community as sheriff.
We asked Smith a few more questions recently. Here’s his response:
FH: WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO RUN?
SMITH: I had given my word to Ted Paxton, prior to him taking office in 2001, not to run against him while he was the sheriff of Forsyth County. I have kept my word; and now that his administration is coming to an end, I can pursue my dream of 35 years by serving the citizens of Forsyth County as their sheriff.
IS THIS THE FIRST TIME YOU HAVE RUN FOR THE SEAT OF SHERIFF?
This is the second time that I have run for the office of sheriff in Forsyth County. The first was in the year 2000.
WHY ARE YOU QUALIFIED TO BE THE NEXT SHERIFF?
I have the most management experience and training within the office of sheriff, which includes over three years of experience and training in the operations of an adult detention center (Fla.), and I am currently the headquarters bureau director holding the rank of lieutenant colonel, which oversees the security of the courts (a Georgia Constitutional duty of the sheriff), and I am a graduate of the Southern Police Institute Administrative Officers Course, which is a command officers college in Louisville, Ky. I have a combined total of 35 years in law enforcement between Florida and Georgia, and am currently certified as a Georgia Peace Officer’s standards and training instructor, having taught in several police academies across the state.
Before becoming the headquarters bureau director, I served as a captain, then major, over the uniform patrol division of the sheriff’s office, the largest division within the sheriff’s office, overseeing the daily operations of 150 deputies and civilian employees.
ARE YOU RUNNING ON A SIMILAR PLATFORM AS SHERIFF PAXTON, MEANING ARE YOU TRYING TO WOO HIS SUPPORTERS?
My platform is simple: re-address the budget to identify and remove any excess waste; re-organize the sheriff’s office personnel command staff to include ‘promote from within,’ ensuring higher morale and a more efficient day-to-day operation; maintain the nationally recognized and award-winning programs, services of the sheriff’s office. So yes, there are some similarities between mine and Paxton’s platform, but maintaining the services and reputation of this organization should be the platform of any sheriff’s candidate. And yes, I am asking for support from Paxton’s, Piper’s and all voters of Forsyth County to vote for me.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE RESPONSE FROM YOUR SUPPORTERS?
It’s about time you ran, and we support you 100 percent.