Voters in 23 counties to decide sheriff's races

Sunday, October 31st 2004, 5:28 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Homeland security issues are raising the stakes in the 23 sheriff races in Oklahoma this year, according to the president of the Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association.

Tom Shaffer, who is also the Major County sheriff, said the county sheriff is the person people look to for security.

``The sheriffs are in charge of doing so much with security in our counties,'' said Shaffer, who is not up for re-election Tuesday.

``People look to them for security, and the sheriffs are being asked to do more and more each day.''

Lincoln County Sheriff Dale McNally, D-Carney, who is opposed by A.T. Brixey, R-Chandler, agrees with Shaffer's assessment.

``I believe it is an issue and I believe it should be an issue,'' McNally said. ``My biggest complaint is that some counties have received enormous amounts of grant money, and they're doing nothing about homeland security,'' he said.

``Meanwhile, other counties are receiving very little money and have a number of security issues to deal with.''

But two sheriffs in rural counties see other challenges.

Roger Mills County Sheriff Joe Hay, D-Cheyenne, who is opposed by Nona Perriman, R-Cheyenne, oversees a western county dominated by vast canyon lands north of Interstate 40.

Hay thinks most of Oklahoma's incumbent sheriffs will have to overcome the public's frustrations with the law.

``The general public is so frustrated with what they see regarding crime and punishment,'' Hay said. ``They see more crimes and less punishment, and who are they going to blame? They're going to blame the guy they see down at the coffee shop _ the local sheriff.''

And in southeastern Oklahoma, Choctaw County Sheriff Lewis Collins, D-Hugo, who is challenged by Frankie Young, R-Hugo, said tight budgets always are a popular campaign issue.

``Of course, no elected official ever has enough money to work with. That's true anywhere you go in the state.''