Jackson, Albritton prep for primary

Published 11:10 am Monday, May 24, 2010

Two men are facing off in the primary election June 1 to see who will win the Republican nomination for the office of Escambia County Sheriff.

Lloyd Albritton and Heath Jackson are in a race to see who will face incumbent Grover Smith in the November general election.

Albritton, who has a military and business background, said the office of sheriff is one he is qualified to fill.

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“The office of sheriff is an elective office, which means the people of Escambia County may elect their sheriff from the ranks of former watchmakers, pipe fitters, electricians or any other business endeavor,” Albritton said. “There is absolutely no requirement that the people elect their sheriff from the ranks of former or existing law enforcement officers. Most often, the only person with experience in the office sought is the incumbent.”

Jackson said his experience in the field of law enforcement gives him the ability to serve the county in the capacity of sheriff.

“After more than 10 years in law enforcement and with a strong background in drug enforcement and specialized investigations, I feel that I have the experience and dedication to lead Escambia County to be a safe and drug free community,” Jackson said.

Albritton credits nine years in the U.S. Marine Corp and training in a wide range of leadership positions during that time as providing him with some of his qualifications to hold the office.

“I trained extensively in Military Occupational Specialty of Criminal Investigator at the U.S. Army CID School and the California Bureau of Narcotics laboratory course in San Diego, Calif.,” Albritton said. “Since my discharge from the military in 1974, I have worked in several business endeavors including banking, telecommunications and manufacturing. I believe the combination of experiences, skills and wisdom I have acquired over my 45 years of work qualifies me to perform the duties of sheriff in a manner that will represent the interest of the citizens of Escambia County far better than if my working experience in life had been in law enforcement alone.”

Each candidate said they believe drugs to be the biggest crime issue for the county with a focus on preventing and finding a solution to the problem.

“The proliferation of illegal drugs in our county is an issue which concerns and affects everyone and it must be addressed,” Albritton said. “Obviously, what we have been doing about drugs in our society over the past 35 years is not working. There are not enough deputy sheriffs in the world to catch all of the illegal drug dealers who have for a long time spent more money promoting their products than government spends to stop them.”

Jackson said the problem with drugs in the communities of Escambia County have gotten worse over the years with education as a possible start to a solution.

“Drugs are by far the biggest criminal problem facing our community everyday,” Jackson said. “Our children are not dealing with the same pressures of drug use that were around 20 years ago. With new forms of drugs making their way on our streets everyday, education on drug abuse is more important than ever before.”

Handling issues facing the county may be a difficult challenge, but it is one both candidates are ready to face.

“I plan to begin immediately to invite community leaders from all the areas of the community to help build a ‘brain trust’ coalition to help identify problems and solutions in the county and to make recommendations of ways that the sheriff’s office can help them solve these problems,” Albritton said. “I plan to develop a cadre of volunteer auxiliary officers and neighborhood watch commanders in order to fill the shortage of regular officers that sometimes results from budget constraints.”

Jackson said addressing the problem head-on may be the first step in a solution.

“If elected sheriff, we will be very proactive in the enforcement of all controlled substance laws,” Jackson said. “Prescription medication abuse will be addressed first off with the main focus on people who are distributing pain medication.”

Running the sheriff’s office is a big job, and both candidates have goals in mind for accomplishing the task.

“As in every business, goals will be set,” Jackson said. “I will support everything possible to help them meet their goals.”

Albritton wouldn’t expect drastic changes in personnel, but believes goals are in order.

“I am confident that the sheriff’s office is presently constituted has many highly qualified deputies and staff of great integrity who I would want to keep,” Albritton said. “Those who do not meet my standards of competency would be given a chance to make necessary changes, and if unable to achieve this challenge would be replaced.”

Albritton and Jackson are on the Republican ticket in the upcoming primary set for June 1. The winner of the primary will face incumbent Sheriff Grover Smith in the November general election.